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On 3rd May 2019 at Clare College, University of Cambridge the Gateway to China: The Future of Innovation in AI was held as part of the AI World Challenge Global Tour took place by the AI World Innovation Challenge (AIWIN). The event was a series of talks and panel discussions as well as an opportunity for networking.


The event was opened by Professor Alan Barrell who is the Director if Studies at Cambridge Innovation Academy. Alan has a wealth of experience in healthcare and electronics. He works with a number of start-ups and growing companies in UK, China and Finland. He was one of the first recipients of The Queen's Award for Enterprise Promotion. In fact, he set up a company in China back in the 90's himself.


Mr Lu Sen, Deputy Director of Shanghai Development Research Center of Economy and Informatization gave some openings remarks about his desire for Cambridge and Shanghai to work closer together.


Dr Gao Feng, Partner at Morrow and Prof Alan Barrell, then gave an overview of the tech scene in Shanghai and China and gave details of the AI World Innovation Challenge (AIWIN).


AIWIN is an Artificial Intelligence Challenge that is part of the World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) in Shanghai, hosted by Shanghai Municipal Government, is one of the largest annual national-level AI gathering in China. Each year the challenge focuses on 3-4 different areas, such as Health, Finance, Vehicle & Robots although there is still opportunity to raise investment and alike outside of these specific applications. For example, it will give companies the opportunity to showcase and pitch your tech & business in front of senior leaders & executives from business and government, national corporates, and well-known investors, including world-renowned AI expert Michael I. Jordan, one of the AI precursors and Turing Award winner Raj Reddy, Alibaba Group CEO Jack Ma, Tencent CEO Pony Ma, Baidu CEO Robin Li, Xiaomi CEO Jun LEI and similar. The event will also be covered by mainstream tech & business medias. There is also the opportunity to work with top accelerators and trade associations to obtain free workspace and start-up packages.


As part of the challenge there is a Technology Challenge made up of a self-driving course (under 5G) and robot challenge. In addition, there is also an AI Application Challenge that invites AI products, technologies and hardware relevant to AI+Health, AI+Finance, AI+Mobility, AI+Industry to participate.


In addition, there is also a SAIL award that includes Superior Award (highly recognized AI projects that benefit humanity and society), Innovative Award (AI application with significant large-scale social, economic and environmental impact), Application Award (AI application with significant large-scale social, economic and environmental impact) and Leading Award (ground-breaking fundamental theory, methods, patterns and platforms). 2018 winners included AWS, Future Bank of IBC, Yitu Facial Recognition and DenseNet.


A number of panel discussions took place during the course of the afternoon, with the following panelists:

During the panel discussions, various topics were raised such as how to ensure removal of bias in training datasets, whether it was easier in China to get access to public datasets (the government is working to open this up), and whether China gave opportunities for fast growing unicorns (which there quite possibly is, due to less regulation, opportunities for "business to be done", large population and data). The cultural differences between China and the west and the associated challenges were discussed. It was also raised by Professor Chris Lowe how Europe/US were mainly concerned with healthcare, whilst China is more focused on agricultural and that Europe has been losing publication share to China (who is now taking the lead) although citations of the Chinese work is lower (perhaps suggesting the quality of the research is not as high yet).


It was also highlighted that Cambridge is one of the central hubs of AI (following London and Edinburgh). The city is home to the likes of BenevolentAI, Deepmind (acquired by Google for an estimated $500m), Magic Pony (acquired by Twitter for £120m), VocalIQ, Evi (acquired by Amazon for an estimated £26m),, AlgoDynamix and


Jeremy Sosabowski, Co-Founder of AlgoDynamix gave a presentation of his company that gives market movement insights giving indications to traders whether to be in or out of the market. The technology uses AI behavioural analytics clustering the markets behaviour and forecast panic behaviours. The solution "augmenting humans" to make better decisions rather than replacing them. Farid Khan, CTO of also gave an overview of his new company concerned with drug discovery and has currently raised £470,000 and looking to raise £1 million in a seed round.


In addition, Cambridge is also the home to Microsoft Research who are apparently working on their own chip optimized for AI applications (as we recently heard Tesla have done), and ARM, who were recently acquired by Softbank who also own the humanoid robots Nao and Pepper. Microsoft also has extensive offerings to allow companies to utilize artificial intelligence as part of their Cognitive Services suite in Azure.


In fact, the UK has been crowned the tech unicorn of Europe being home to at least 37% of the billion dollar start-ups, representing a total value of $23bn (£17bn) [ref:].

Though fintech is a sector leader, investment into artificial intelligence (AI) grew by 50 per cent in the last year. A separate study by CognitionX, in partnership with the Mayor of London, revealed AI represented approximately 10 per cent of all tech raises in the city in 2017.

In summary, it looks like China is going full steam ahead using AI to answer some of its' forthcoming challenges of a growing economy and population. They are seeing the innovation taking part in the world and looking to attract the best to work in their country through reduced regulation, market opportunities and investment.


Any company invested in make an entry to AIWIN, should ensure they have a clear offering that addresses specific pain points. To find out more about AIWIN, go to

About the author

Ben Weeks

Ben Weeks

Ben is the CEO of KnowAll and has a passion for artificial intelligence and cloud technologies.

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