23 October, 2017

AI Commercialization

Mrs. Jennifer Zhu Scott, the founding principle of Radian Partners, a private investment firm focusing on Artificial Intelligence, the Blockchain and renewable energy, visited HKUST to give a talk on AI Commercialization jointly held by the Big Data Institute and Department of Computer Science and Engineering on 23 October.

Under the backdrop of growing impact of deploying AI technology within businesses, Jennifer shared her expert insights on the opportunities and challenges of commercializing AI, and that why Hong Kong matters.

While the US and China are the two biggest and major markets in the ecommerce world, she said the “layers of AI” in terms of depth of data collection in China is completely in the next level. “From buying a small toy from hawkers to shopping in wet markets for all ages are all cashless. All mobile and online payment leaves a trace, and the amount of data collecting about people’s daily lives is happening and expanding in an exponential way.” Besides, although statistics shows that total AI specialists in US is 13.8 times larger than those in China, Jennifer said many of those specialists in the US are actually Chinese ethnically, with some Indians, where very few are Caucasians. Meanwhile, she shared that total AI research outputs China is 30% larger than the US, that actually tells a lot about the strength of China in leading in the AI industry, whose influence is growing year by year.

Jennifer also encouraged students not to be bound by the traditional thinking of “entering into big companies after graduation”, and that nowadays big firms like Baidu are actively seeking to buy new companies to acquire new technologies to sustain the rapid development in the industry. So having their own start-ups may be the even better or more lucrative way to get ahead of a career in AI. With a different mentality investors on startups in the US and China, Jennifer explained why there are huge potential in AI startups in the Asian region. She said that US investors prefer more tech-driven and far-fetched long term development, hence startups like Deep Mind, Boston Dynamics and Hanson Robotics stand out; the Chinese ones favor more down to earth, daily-life relevant startups that could commercialize within a year, so intelligent financial service tech platform Dumiao, creative design platform Tezign, language app Liulishuo, etc. outrun others. On top, she also made a case as of why Hong Kong is such a great platform with China as the backdrop of AI market and tech powerhouse; and what does it take to draw interest from investors, and the core investment criteria necessary to become successful.

Her talk is hugely popular among the students, drawing many questions in the Q&A section and even afterwards, where her witty and knowledgeable interactions triggered them to open up and think more widely and deeply in various perspectives of their future and the industry going ahead.

Zhu Scott is the founding principle of Radian Partners, a private investment firm focusing on Artificial Intelligence, the Blockchain, and renewable energy. She is also the co-founder of Radian Blockchain Ventures, using the blockchain technology to transform physical infrastructures starting with the solar industry. Prior, she was head of business development and strategy in APAC for Thomson Reuters and led the firm’s speech-to-text, deep search, video-indexing projects. She co-founded one of the first education companies in China and exited before moving to the UK as a senior advisor to the education subsidiary of Daily Mail & General Trust.

Jennifer served the 2014-16 term as one of the 18 council members of China Council convened by the Global Agenda Council, the World Economic Forum’s think tank. She is currently serving as one of 24 members of the Council of The Future of Blockchain at WEF. In 2013, Jennifer was honored by WEF as a Young Global Leader. Jennifer studied Applied Mathematics at Sichuan University and holds an MBA in Finance with Manchester Business School, where she earned distinction with her research on PE/VC in China and was awarded as a Distinguished Alumni. She completes the public policy and leadership program at Yale University in 2013 and Harvard Kennedy School in 2016. Jennifer is China Fellow of Aspen Institute and a permanent member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. Jennifer is a board and advisory board member of numerous AI and blockchain empowered companies, including RNDR of OTOY, which is advised by Dr. Eric Schmidt of Google, Ari Emanuel of WME IMG, and director JJ Abrams.