Japanese e-commerce firm Rakuten recently opened a research and design (R&D) centre in Singapore.
Led by Head of Research Dr. Ewa Szymanska, the Rakuten Institute of Tehnology team in Singapore will focus on consumer psychology, behavioural science, and the field of mobile and social innovations to pilot solutions in Asia. This will complement the research in Rakuten's R&D centre in Boston, where artificial intelligence will be the main focus of research.
The Rakuten Institute of Technology will also proactively collaborate with the industry, and hold personnel exchanges with educational institutes to bring in academic knowledge while carrying out its research.
As part of the institute's launch, Rakuten is hosting the Rakuten-Viki Global TV Recommender Challenge from now till 31 August 2015. Participants are tasked to develop a personalised recommender system for users of Viki — a global video streaming service provider — while following a set of business and consumer considerations. With access to over 7 million lines of anonymised data, participants will get a sense of viewers' demographics, preferences and popular content features.
Results of the contest will be announced on 16 September 2015. The winning team will walk away with S$8,000, and could potentially deploy and test their system in real-time, with the help of Rakuten Institute of Technology and Viki's engineering talent, said Rakuten.
Growing Singapore's data science community
Committed to growing the local data science community, Rakuten has partnered Singapore's Economic Development Board (EDB) to offer a Rakuten Data Science Training programme at its centre. The programme is part of the EDB-supported Strategic Attachment and Training (STRAT) programme.
The Rakuten Data Science Training Programme is designed to provide Singaporeans with the skills and knowledge across different Internet services. Participants will work out of Rakuten Institute of Technology's global offices with field experts to solve real business problems using the latest technologies. At the end of the programme, the researchers will return to serve a two-year bond with Rakuten, or another Singapore company.
"Rakuten Institute of Technology will be instrumental in the development of new capabilities to shape the future of Internet services and e-commerce globally from Singapore," said Kiren Kumar, EDB's Director Infocomms & Media Division. "The institute will also be an important partner to help train Singaporeans in relevant analytics skills and prepare them for exciting new career opportunities as applied analytics becomes an increasingly important capability for companies."
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