Singapore-based Advance.ai raises US$80 mil in funding round to spur expansion across Asia

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(Sept 20): Advance.ai, a Singapore-based artificial intelligence (AI) and big data start-up, has raised US$80 million in its Series C funding, with the proceeds to be used to drive expansion across Asia.

The funding, led by China-based Gaorong Capital and Singapore-based Pavilion Capital, with participation from Unicorn Venture, eGarden Ventures and existing investors including GSR Ventures and Vision Plus Capital, was announced on Thursday.

Advance.ai’s services and products are aimed at helping clients to reduce fraud risks, improve efficiency and to support the introduction of next generation credit scoring systems aimed at serving the underbanked in emerging markets.

“Historically the attention and resources dedicated to AI development such as computer vision and natural language processing for Southeast Asia has been lacking,” said Jefferson Chen, co-founder and chief executive of Advance.ai in a statement.

“We have been focusing on that … by bringing some of the best talents from various fields together to address the needs in this part of the world.”

Chen is also a partner at GSR Ventures, which was an early backer of China’s ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing.

Singapore has put in place policies to spur innovation and technology and its status as a regional financial centre has also helped it attract venture capital. A recent report released by Google ranked Singapore second as a smart city in Asia-Pacific after Tokyo, while Hong Kong was third, according to the perceptions of Hong Kong residents.

Meanwhile Singapore’s national AI programme, aptly named AI Singapore, was set up within the National University of Singapore and aimed at encouraging private companies and research-based institutions to develop an AI ecosystem.

“There are lots of opportunities in emerging markets like Southeast Asia right now, especially in consumer financing and retail,” Zhang Zhen, founder and managing partner of Gaorong Capital, said in a statement.