Singapore’s Temasek snaps up BasisAI to underpin Aicadium AI expansion

BasisAI had previously received funding from Temasek.
BasisAI co-founders, Linus Lee, Liu Feng-Yuan and Silvanus Lee.

BasisAI co-founders, Linus Lee, Liu Feng-Yuan and Silvanus Lee.

Singaporean investment company Temasek has, through its Aicadium technology company, acquired fellow Singapore-based tech player BasisAI in a bid to expand its efforts in the artificial intelligence (AI) arena.  

Aicadium, which claims offices in Singapore and the United States, was established by Temasek relatively recently and officially launched in August this year as Temasek's global centre of excellence in artificial intelligence.

One of the company’s aims is to partner with Temasek portfolio companies and other enterprises wanting to develop and scale end-to-end AI solutions to improve their business outcomes.  

The firm already leverages a global team of data scientists and engineers and a platform of AI algorithms, models and tools to help clients achieve operational AI within their organisations.

Now, BasisAI, which is also headquartered in Singapore and a prior recipient of Temasek funding, is set to become part of the Aicadium operation, dropping its brand in the process, with both organisations to be jointly known as Aicadium following the merger.  

BasisAI was co-founded by Liu Feng-Yuan, Linus Lee and Silvanus Lee in 2018, the trio drawing on their collective experience building scalable AI within Silicon Valley companies.

With a particular focus on bringing AI technology and services to the Asia Pacific region, BasisAI claims a proprietary platform, Bedrock, which it uses to help transform enterprises with bespoke, augmented intelligence software, and a core focus on building well-governed, trustworthy AI systems.

In 2019, BasisAI raised S$8.2 million (US$6 million) in seed funding from Temasek and Sequoia India. A year later, the start-up launched its proprietary end-to-end machine learning platform.

Since then, BasisAI has gone on to deploy solutions for organisations such as ComfortDelGro, along with the Singapore government and Singapore Airlines, and has also partnered with global companies including Accenture, PwC, and Amazon Web Services (AWS).

As a merged entity, it is hoped the companies will expand operations to serve a global enterprise customer base.

The combined organisation brings together a number of capabilities, including deep AI and machine learning technologies, and collective product development expertise spanning decades.  

It is hoped that the unified team's experience delivering end-to-end AI solutions for enterprises will help to enable and underpin Aicadium's global expansion plans.

“This acquisition allows us to accelerate our growth strategy, broaden our reach and expand our offering that is built on the strong foundation of a powerful AI platform and a combined team of talent,” said Feng-Yuan, BasisAI co-founder and chief executive officer, who will assume an executive leadership position at Aicadium together with fellow BasisAI co-founder Linus Lee.  

“We are excited to be joining forces with Aicadium to augment our strength in building responsible AI systems,” he added.

According to Michael Zeller, head of AI strategy and solutions at Temasek, BasisAI shares Aicadium's determination to deliver AI solutions that are responsibly and ethically designed, developed and deployed.

“The strengths that BasisAI brings to the Aicadium team include not only an extremely talented and experienced group of data scientists, software engineers, and business leaders but also an AI platform that was built from the ground up with these values in mind,” Zeller said.  

"Together, the new entity will further Temasek's strategy of deploying capital to catalyse innovative and transformational technologies, such as AI, to enhance businesses and build a more inclusive, resilient world,” he added.

The merger comes at a time when AI is growing in importance and prevalence across the business landscape.

As reported earlier this year, it is thought 2020 will be looked at as the year AI went from being the stuff of science fiction to a business reality.

According to findings from the 2021 State of AI and Machine Learning Report released by Appen Limited, a provider of training data used to build AI systems, organisations of all sizes accelerated their AI initiatives when Covid-19 hit in 2020.

Indeed, AI is reaching broader market maturity, with budgets growing more than 50 per cent year-over-year, ranging from US$500,000 to US$5 million annually.