Chinese artificial intelligence (AI) company Yitu Technology has opened its first international research & development (R&D) center in Singapore, where it plans to expand its businesses and seek new growth beyond the Chinese market.

The center will focus on providing computer vision and speech processing solutions to enterprises, universities, and research institutes in the region, according to a press release. The Shanghai-based AI company opened its first overseas office in Singapore in January 2018.

Co-founded in 2012 by Zhu Long, an AI researcher who graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, and Lin Chenxi, a former Alibaba and Microsoft executive, the Chinese AI startup is known for its facial recognition software.

Chinese AI startups are moving abroad with their facial recognition know-how, seeking new revenue streams amid a cooling investment climate in China. Sensetime, the most valuable AI startup in the world, opened an autonomous vehicle testing and R&D facility in the Japanese city of Joso earlier this month. Sensetime has also made moves into Singapore after signing an agreement with National Supercomputing Centre of Singapore, telecommunications company Singtel, and Nanyang Technological University in June last year.

Meanwhile, Megvii has its eyes on South America, following plans to this year “empower various industries” in Brazil with AI.

Yitu began working with Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) in Singapore in November 2018, developing AI training courses for NYP students, and working with professionals to ready Singapores workforce for an AI-driven economy. Prior to this, it partnered with Singaporean state-owned security firm Certis Cisco as one of its first clients in the region. The company used Yitu’s facial recognition solutions to secure access to sensitive areas such as data centers.

Yitu said it intends to triple its overseas headcount to around 100 research fellows over the next three years, as it seeks to customize AI solutions to address specific demands in various markets.

The company came out on top at the Face Recognition Vendor Test hosted by the United States’ National Institute of Standards and Technology in November 2018. It was followed by Chinese rivals Sensetime and Megvii.

Jill Shen is Shanghai-based technology reporter. She covers Chinese mobility, autonomous vehicles, and electric cars. Connect with her via e-mail: or Twitter: @jill_shen_sh

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