The Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) has signed a strategic partnership agreement with China-based AI company SenseTime to establish the firm’s EMEA research and development centre in Abu Dhabi, the companies announced on Tuesday.
The agreement was signed in the presence of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces during his visit to China.
According to media reports, SenseTime is the world’s highest value AI company with a valuation of over $4.5 billion and is the world’s fastest growing pure-play AI company. The company offers customers AI as a ‘value creation’ tool in sectors ranging from autonomous driving to medical image analysis and remote sensing.
In an interview with Arabian Business, Elham Al Qasim, CEO of ADIO marks an important step in the Abu Dhabi government’s Ghadan 21 Accelerator Programme by helping build a knowledge-based economy for the emirate.
“Our original objective when we set up the Ghadan 21 programme is to make a concerted effort to accelerate the economy, especially in areas that we know will be sustainable and future proof,” she said. “SenseTime fits squarely into that effort and plan to create high-potential and sustainable jobs in the private sector.”
Additionally, Al Qasim said the presence of SenseTime in Abu Dhabi will “help accelerate the adoption of AI into a number of different sectors.
“[SenseTime will] create tailored products that are customised for key government and private sector counterparts in Abu Dhabi and the region,” she added. “For example, in the healthcare and education [sectors] or in smart cities. These are all at the core of the SenseTime roadmap and need AI solutions that need to be customised.”
The establishment of the SenseTime EMEA R&D Headquarters is expected to start in 2019, marking the company’s first presence in the EMEA region. ADIO has provided the firm with a support package which Al Qasim said included cash and non-cash incentives, steps to reduce the cost of the move and regulatory support.
ADIO and SenseTime believe that the centre will produce hundreds of jobs, many of which will be highly skilled engineers.
“Those kinds of jobs are very high GDP multipliers. For every one job that is created there are four or five jobs created across the broader economy, and that of course is what makes the economy move,” Al Qasim added.
SenseTime currently operates out of offices in mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan, with a roster of over 700 clients including Alibaba Group, China Mobile and Honda.