Rakuten opens R&D center on consumer behaviour in SG; launches contest for data scientists

Rakuten, Inc. has opened Rakuten Institute of Technology in Singapore and Boston, joining the existing league of dedicated research and design centers in Tokyo, Paris and New York.

To kick off, the Institute is hosting the Rakuten-Viki Global TV Recommender Challenge, a contest aimed at data scientists in the countries and regions of Asia with the goal of solving a problem utilizing the data of the global video streaming service provider and Rakuten Group company Viki.

With the aim to grow and connect a community of data scientists to help and innovate consumer experiences and products, the Rakuten Institute of Technology in Singapore has also partnered with the Economic Development Board (EDB) on a Rakuten Data Science Training Programme.

The Rakuten Institute of Technology is a think-tank focused on R&D that drives innovation, in order to create products and services that fulfill the pressing needs of businesses. Led by Head of Research, Dr. Ewa Szymanska, the team will be focused on consumer psychology, behavioral science and the field of mobile & social innovations to pilot solutions in Asia. This will also complement the research in the new center in Boston where artificial intelligence (AI) will be the main focus of research.

Masaya Mori, Global Head, Rakuten Institute of Technology, Executive Officer, Rakuten, Inc. said: “Asia is very important to Rakuten especially as more and more markets are showing high growth potential. The institute will complement our Rakuten Asia headquarters in Singapore by leading the research and technology to deepen our understanding of consumer behaviour, enabling us to drive innovation in growing markets’.

The Rakuten Institute of Technology will also proactively collaborate with industry and academia, hold personnel exchanges with educational institutes to bring in academic knowledge while carrying out its research.

He added, “Through partnerships with the Economic Development Board and activities like the Rakuten-Viki Global TV Recommender Challenge, the Institute is now able to work with and nurture the growing data-science and internet services industry, a first step to empowering businesses globally.”

Growing communities with EDB’s Strategic Attachment and Training (STRAT)

Committed to empowering the local community, Rakuten Institute of Technology will endeavour to cultivate the emerging data science community in Singapore. The Institute has embarked on a partnership with the Economic Development Board (EDB) in Singapore, to create the Rakuten Data Science Training Programme, a program that is a part of the Strategic Attachment and Training (STRAT) program, an initiative supported by EDB.

The Rakuten Data Science Training Programme is designed to provide Singaporeans with the skills and knowledge they need to excel in emerging sectors and activities in Singapore. It will offer researchers in Singapore the opportunity to build their portfolio of practical 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. They will be trained to use cutting edge tools, and learn to apply the latest technologies in their research. At the end of the program, the researchers will return to serve a two year bond with Rakuten, or another Singapore company.

“The establishment of the Rakuten Institute of Technology in Singapore is a testament to our research capabilities and highly skilled talent pool. The institute will be instrumental in the development of new capabilities to shape the future of internet services and e-commerce globally from Singapore. Rakuten Institute of Technology 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,” said Kiren Kumar, Director Infocomms & Media Division, Singapore Economic Development Board.

Empowering communities to make a difference through the Rakuten-Viki Global Recommender Data Challenge

Keeping true to the intent of empowering communities and businesses, the Institute will introduce the Rakuten-Viki Global TV Recommender Challenge beginning today.

Viki, a global TV site brings prime-time entertainment to new audiences and works with content owners to develop new markets and revenue opportunities. Currently, Viki users can access all their favorite prime-time content which is translated into more than 200 languages by a community of avid fans. The site has approximately 35 million viewers each month, 26 million mobile app installs and over 800 million words translated.

Participants in the Challenge will betasked to develop a personalized recommender system for Viki fans world-wide while following a set of business and consumer considerations. With access to over 7 million lines of anonymized data, participants will get a sense of viewers’ demographics, preferences and popular content features.

Interested applicants are to submit their models by 31 August 2015 to be in the running to win attractive incentives of a total of SGD$12,000 awarded at the grand presentation and award ceremony on 16 September 2015. The team that emerges top also stands to potentially deploy and test their model real-time in collaboration with the Rakuten Institute of Technology and Viki’s engineering talent.

Source: Rakuten opens R&D center on consumer behaviour in SG; launches contest for data scientists

Via: Google Alert for Data Science