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Singapore tech star Annabelle Kwok’s secret formula to success

Annabelle Kwok, Founder and CEO of NeuralBay, is already one of Singapore’s most well-known rising stars in the tech world. She is 26-years-old, but has already founded two artificial intelligence startups and travels the world speaking at conferences, including the UK Asia Tech Powerhouse conference, which took place at RAD earlier this summer. We caught up with Annabelle to find her secret formula to success, the latest trends in AI, and her thoughts on RAD as a hub for entrepreneurs like herself.

Q. You’re well-known across the tech world for being such a young successful entrepreneur – what did it take to get you there?

By having lots of fun. There are definitely times where I feel like pulling my hair out, but I count myself very lucky to be able to pursue what I enjoy for a cause that I believe in. When you are curious about something, you learn much faster than your peers and you start excelling in that field. More opportunities naturally open up, and when they do, it is in the direction that keeps you engaged and one that you will enjoy.

Q. What was the idea behind setting up your company Neural Bay and what would you say is your biggest ambition?

I want to help people, and currently, the way I feel I can contribute the most is by using my knowledge and skills to build tech products and services. Through NeuralBay, I hope to make technology easy and accessible for those who need it the most. In this technological era, smaller companies are unable to catch up with bigger corporations like Google and Facebook in the race for innovation. We need to do something before technical disparity grows too large too quickly.

Q. Where is AI having the most impact in the world and what is the reason behind this?

Access to data is the heart of modern AI, and more companies and countries are transitioning their operational processes to allow for higher volumes, variety, velocity, and veracity of data. There are already so many wonderful use-cases for AI – from the massive scale of space explorations and urban planning in a smart nation, to the personal level of login encryptions and ridesharing apps. However, I don’t believe we are anywhere near to witnessing the full potential of what AI has to offer. AI will become one of building blocks on which, a larger software system will use.

Q. What can the UK learn about the success of the tech sector from those communities; how can the UK take more advantage of the growing tech sector?

When building a solution, I’ve seen many companies make the mistake of trying to reinvent the wheel when they don’t have to, or chase the latest shiny technologies to the point where they have deviated from the intention to solve a problem. Be open to collaborating with others in terms of data and technologies, and aim towards achieving total process automation in the long-term. Start by understanding which operational decisions and actions are driven by humans, and which parts can be optimized, augmented, automated or re-invented.

Q. What are the advantages for tech companies wanting to set up shop at RAD?

Asia is growing very quickly with lots of opportunities opening up for individuals and businesses to bring their existing expertise or products to a new market. The team behind RAD are dedicated to building bridges between Asia and the UK, especially in the tech sector. They have a support system for startups and new entrepreneurs, where they provide a flexible working space, and an opportunity to easily network and build bridges with like-minded peers. This will be especially useful for entrepreneurs looking for a quick way to plug into the ecosystem and expedite their growth through the first few stages of opening a business.

Q. What would you describe as the biggest challenge facing the tech industry today and how would you personally overcome that?

The biggest challenge is probably a bureaucratic one, where governments are taking a long time to draft, implement and enforce legislations around data governance. Although what is considered ‘proper’ data governance and ethics is subjective based on their priorities and history amongst many other things, the pace of innovation is not slowing down anytime soon. So, what we can do now as researchers, developers and engineers is to take it upon ourselves to do the right thing for the people and for society.

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