For Dr Nina Tan, Managing Director of Business Intelligence and 8nalytics (8analytics), co-innovation is not just a buzzword but a dynamic way to bring forth synergistic solutions that will benefit individuals, businesses and society in general.

It began in 2013 when Dr Tan’s research established a significant correlation between personnel competency and work performance targets. Today, what started as her idea to enhance workplace learning and development by leveraging predictive intelligence, has evolved into a consortium project involving four companies and spanning two continents.

The consortium project on AI Machine Learning Platform (AIMLP) aims to enhance workplace learning and development by synergising 8nalytics’ competencies and behavioural-based training intervention platform with meta-communication cues capabilities like voice tonality, body language, gestures, facial expression and cognitive behaviours.

However, while 8nalytics has in-depth global experience as a business advisory providing visual business intelligence through predictive data analytics, it needed other meta- communication analysis capabilities to bring the project to fruition. For this, Dr Tan reached out to IPI.

From supporting 8nalytics in crafting a Tech Need post to publishing it on IPI’s Innovation Marketplace and the 2nd EUREKA GlobalStars-Singapore call, to sieving through the responses, IPI worked closely with Dr Tan to identify the right partners. This led to her connecting with three global research and business partners, which are Kft (CREO), a Hungarian software company with strong competences in AI; Vakif Katilim Bankasi A.S. (Vakif), a Turkish bank with a R&D centre specialising in adapting technology in digital process automation, data analysis, machine learning and blockchain to drive customer experience; and Sestek, a global technology company that designs conversational AI and analytics solutions for brands to work more efficiently. 

After several rounds of discussions, Dr Tan decided that she could dovetail the expertise of all three companies to enhance 8nalytics’ platform – CREO for its capabilities in natural language processing, semantics, emotion and gesture analysis, and electroencephalogram (EEG) signal processing; Vakif for its emotion and motion analysis system; and Sestek for its conversational analytics powered by speech technologies.

But the collaboration was not without its challenges. With English not being the primary language for some of her partners, communication was a key hurdle. Recognising this, the team supported each other, taking time to explain specific points and clarify discrepancies. Another challenge was the vast amount of data needed on Asian and Western facial emotions, gestures and voices. Once again, the partners’ rallied together and agreed to gather enough data to build an accurate and reliable model.

“It is important to note that we have different professional backgrounds and also come from different cultures. It means that our working styles and communication patterns are different. I think that the first months of our collaboration was a learning curve for everyone,” says CREO’s Managing Director, László Grad-Gyenge.

Hacer Özmen Yilmaz, Sestek’s Senior R&D Project Coordinator, adds, “We worked very closely despite the different time zones. With 8nalytics’ coordination, the project has been proceeding according to plan.”

Already, the team is in the process of testbedding the pilot platform. Pleased with the achievements of the collaboration to date, Dr Tan attributes this to all partners having shared goals, mutual trust and frequent communication. “It is incredible to see how the consortium partners’ technologies synergise to produce holistic insights.”

Although the project is scheduled to wrap up in the second half of 2022, this will not spell the end of the alliance. Once launched, the solution will seed diverse licensing and commercialisation opportunities around the globe – something that the consortium wants to actualise together.

Individually, each partner has grown in various ways as a direct result of the collaboration. “The AIMLP project gives us experience in a different domain and allows us to learn the needs of other sectors,” says Hacer.

For Bulut Karada─č, Vakif’s R&D and Innovation Service Manager for their IT Strategy and Governance Directorate, the global nature of the project has been an eye-opening experience. “We usually carry out national projects on emotion and motion analysis on Caucasian people. Thanks to our work with 8nalytics, we are improving our ability to do international projects as well as gain new face datasets for testing.”

As for 8nalytics, Dr Tan expects to apply the advanced technology created to help even more companies and individuals grow and thrive. “Working with IPI enabled us to explore opportunities with complementary intervention technology partners to strengthen the value proposition to market within Asia and into Europe,” she says. “By uniting our strengths, we are able to create an AI-assisted and automated novel learning platform that will meet the training and development needs of companies in these regions and possibly beyond.”