APRU | November 29, 2022
The AI for Social Good Project – Strengthening AI Capabilities and Governing Frameworks in Asia and the Pacific has recently passed the milestone of onboarding two key government agencies.
The project is the latest collaboration between the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU), UN ESCAP, and Google.org, which commenced in mid-2021 and will run until the end of 2023. Over the past year, meetings and workshops have been held with government agencies from Thailand and Bangladesh. The confirmed government partners to join the project are the Office of National Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation Policy Council (NXPO) of Thailand, in close collaboration with the National Electronics and Computer Center (NECTEC) and the National Science and Technology Development Agency and the Institute of Field Robotics (FIBO) under the King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi, and the Bangladesh Aspire to Innovate (a2i) Programme. NXPO and a2i are affiliated with Thailand’s Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation and the ICT Division and Cabinet Division of Bangladesh, respectively.
The AI for Social Good multi-stakeholder network was initially set up in 2019, among the first milestones being the creation of a platform that convenes leading experts from the region to explore opportunities and challenges for maximizing AI benefits for society. After these activities engaged a wide range of policy experts and practitioners, the three project partners decided that it was the right time to move on to the next stage of working directly with government agencies to apply the insights generated through the collaborative project to date. The aim has been to work with government partners in Asia and the Pacific to grow sound and transparent AI ecosystems that support sustainable development goals.
“Recognizing that AI offers transformative solutions for achieving the SDGs, we are pleased to participate in the AI for Social Good Project to share experience and research insights to develop enabling AI policy frameworks.”
-Dr. Kanchana Wanichkorn, NXPO’s Vice President.
NXPO identified ‘Poverty Alleviation’ and ‘Medicine and Healthcare’ as two areas of need that are now tackled by two academic project teams. To alleviate poverty and inequality, the Thai government has developed data-driven decision-making systems to improve public access to state welfare programs. The project, under the academic leadership of the Australia National University (ANU) team, will focus on enhancing the human-centered design and public accessibility of these technologies to support successful implementation. In addition, research on AI for medical applications has increased exponentially in the past few years in Thailand. However, the progress in developing and applying AI from research to market in these areas is relatively slow. To support and accelerate the use of AI in medicine and healthcare, the expert team from the National University of Singapore (NUS) will focus their research and analysis on identifying crucial bottlenecks and gaps that impede the beneficial use of AI.
While the two Bangladesh projects both focus on the need for ‘Continuing and Personalized Pregnancy Monitoring’ (to improve health outcomes during and after birth), they are exploring different aspects of this key focus area for the government of Bangladesh. Under the leadership of the team from NUS & KAIST, the first project investigates challenges in perceptions and reception of incorporating AI into continuous pregnancy monitoring systems. Under the leadership of the University of Hawai‘i Team, the second project circles in on technological issues of Bangladesh’s healthcare sector and their impacts on AI-based data analysis and decision-making processes.
The academic integrity of both sets of country projects is overseen by Toni Erskine, Professor of International Politics and Director of the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs at ANU. Erskine guides both the conception of the research questions in collaboration with the government partners and the delivery of the project outputs by providing support for the four academic teams in developing their projects.
“It has been incredibly rewarding to lead a project that brings together such an impressive, multidisciplinary group of researchers with government agencies that are so passionate about finding solutions to crucial problems – ranging from poverty alleviation to maternal health care, the process of working closely with government agencies from the outset to discuss these problems and co-design research questions makes this project unique and genuinely collaborative. I’m very proud to be part of it.”
-Toni Erskine, Professor of International Politics and Director of the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs at ANU.
The following steps for the ‘AI for Social Good Project: Strengthening AI Capabilities and Governing Frameworks in Asia and the Pacific’ project will be to review and discuss the first complete drafts of the research papers by the four academic teams at a workshop in January. The partner government agencies from Bangladesh and Thailand will attend the workshop. Workshops with both government teams will also follow the presentation of final papers in the second quarter of 2023. To mark the project's conclusion, a summit with all participants in the project will be held in mid-2023 at the Australia National University.
Yellow.ai | November 23, 2022
With countries in the Middle East working to enable broad-scaled digital transformation, government agencies are increasingly gravitating towards the adoption of Conversational AI solutions to redefine the citizen experience. According to data released by Yellow.ai, a leading enterprise-grade Conversational AI platform, the company has served over 222K unique users for its government sector clientele in the region.
Recently mentioned in the Gartner Hype Cycle for Digital Government Services, 2022, under the chatbot category, the company works with key government departments across the Middle East. The Yellow.ai platform has recorded an exchange of over 13M messages focused on citizen delivery services in the last two quarters, exchanged between its Dynamic AI agents and end-users during over 233K sessions.
"Public sector organizations need to address numerous queries daily, and doing so manually is a time-consuming task. At the same time, citizens have a growing expectation of being able to conveniently avail government services. That's where Conversational AI can step in to improve efficiency and human productivity, streamlining the process of delivering citizen services digitally while keeping humans in the loop. We have seen a huge surge in traction from Middle Eastern government agencies , and our deployments are helping address some very unique use cases by bringing power to citizens' fingertips on channels that they actively use. With continued emphasis on digitization, we expect Conversational AI to soon become an integral pillar in delivering stellar services to citizens."
-Raghu Ravinutala, CEO & Co-founder, Yellow.ai.
For instance, Yellow.ai works with one of the largest government entities in the UAE, where over 4000 users interact with its Dynamic AI agent in a single day. The AI agent has a 99.7 percent accuracy rate, delivering a CSAT score of 4.56 out of 5. While text-based messaging channels are the preferred medium for citizen delivery services, the company is also seeing voice-based Conversational AI solutions gain momentum. The major use-cases, as observed, are for automating customer support, filing documentation related to government entities, booking services, raising complaints, making payments, and locating branches and offices, where the most traction is being witnessed on WhatsApp.
Yellow.ai is a leading enterprise-grade Conversational AI platform, enabling enterprises to unlock business potential at scale. The platform is trusted across 85+ countries by 1000+ enterprises, including Domino's, Sephora, Hyundai, Carrefour, Kuwait Food Company (Americana), Choithrams, Amouage Oman, Arabian Radio Network and MG Motors. Powered by Dynamic AI agents for enterprises, the company aims to deliver human-like interactions that boost customer satisfaction and increase employee engagement at scale, through its no-code platform. Recognised by Frost & Sullivan, Gartner, Forrester, IDC, and G2 as a leader, the company has raised more than $102M from blue-chip investors and has offices across six countries.
Volta | November 24, 2022
Volta Inc. (NYSE: VLTA) (“Volta”), an industry-leading electric vehicle (EV) charging and media company, today announced that a project application it collaborated on with Imagen Energy, LLC (“Imagen”), a developer of compact high-power EV chargers, was awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). The project seeks to develop and commercialize the next generation of domestically manufactured DC Fast Charging (DCFC) technology in support of the federal government’s clean energy and climate priorities.
The grant is part of the ARPA-E Seeding Critical Advances for Leading Energy technologies with Untapped Potential (SCALEUP) program, which provides further funding to previous ARPA-E teams that have been determined to be feasible for widespread deployment and commercialization domestically. SCALEUP selectees demonstrate a viable path to commercial deployment and the ability to attract private sector investments.
Through this project, Imagen and Volta seek to develop and commercialize chargers that are more flexible, more powerful, and more affordable by focusing on:
Scalable Chargers: The project will utilize Imagen’s flexible, high-efficiency silicon carbide-based (SiC) power conversion platform to produce compact charging cabinets that enable affordable, easier-to-install, and highly reliable high-power fast chargers capable of charging multiple EVs simultaneously and being deployed in a market quickly. The flexible platform is expected to facilitate optional, convenient integration with energy storage and renewable energy, and supports vehicle-to-grid integration.
BIL-compliance: Equipment is being engineered to deliver at least 150kW and be manufactured in the United States to comply with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s (BIL) requirements. The technology will also fulfill network connectivity requirements, including Plug and Charge capabilities and communication through the Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP) and Open Charge Point Interface protocol (OCPI), building upon Volta’s existing software implementation to allow flexible integration with roaming charging partners.
Visibility & Access: Volta will leverage its patented, award-winning PredictEV infrastructure planning software to identify optimal sites for effective piloting and initial deployment based on local EV ownership, mobility trends, demographics, and income levels. With more than 3,000 stalls currently installed, many within disadvantaged communities, and numerous existing relationships with leading retail and commercial properties, Volta’s EV charging network will enable quick feedback loops during the testing phase.
“Imagen relies on commercialization partners like Volta to accelerate the deployment of our high power density, silicon carbide-based power conversion platforms, The combination of Volta’s advanced PredictEV planning tool and the company’s existing charging network creates the ideal environment for quickly developing reliable, affordable, and efficient charging solutions that will support the rapid transition to electric mobility.”
-Ezana Mekonnen, Chief Technology Officer at Imagen.
While this is a modest initial government grant that does not replace the need for the capital we are currently raising, it is proof of Volta’s ability to align our business with the federal government’s priorities, said Vince Cubbage, Interim Chief Executive Officer at Volta. Volta’s collaboration with Imagen on this winning ARPA-E application demonstrates our commitment to supporting solutions that are compliant with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, ensuring implementation can be done in a capital-efficient manner.
Volta Inc. (NYSE: VLTA) is an industry-leading electric vehicle ("EV") charging and media company. Volta's unique network of charging stations powers vehicles and drives business growth while accelerating a clean energy future. Volta delivers value to site partners, brands, and consumers by installing charging stations that feature large-format digital advertising screens located steps away from the entrances of popular commercial locations. Retailers can attract and influence foot traffic, advertisers can precisely target audiences, and EV drivers can charge their vehicles seamlessly as they go about their daily routines. Volta's extensive network leverages its proprietary PredictEV® platform, which uses sophisticated behavioral science and machine learning technology to help commercial property owners, cities, and electric utilities plan EV infrastructure intelligently, efficiently, and equitably.
Madison Dearborn Partners | December 05, 2022
Madison Dearborn Partners, LLC (“MDP”), a leading private equity firm based in Chicago, today announced the formation of a partnership with industry-veterans Damon Griggs and Jon Brooks to pursue investments in the federal government technology sector. The former Dovel Technologies (“Dovel”) executives have extensive industry expertise and an impressive track-record of delivering growth, which will complement MDP’s investment experience in the federal government technology and tech-enabled services market.
“Damon and Jon bring a wealth of expertise and proven success building companies that provide valuable solutions for federal clients that will benefit MDP’s continued investment in the attractive market for government technology services, We look forward to partnering with Damon and Jon to identify businesses with significant growth potential that will benefit from the unique combination of Damon and Jon’s expertise and MDP’s deep industry knowledge and resources.”
-Matt Norton, Managing Director and Head of MDP’s Business & Government Software and Services team.
Griggs, who most recently served as Chief Executive Officer of Dovel Technologies, brings more than 20 years of experience successfully leading and growing technology services companies. Under Griggs’ tenure as CEO, he oversaw the company’s transformation into a market leader in the federal health technology sector. In less than three years, Griggs more than doubled the firm’s annual revenues to approximately $450 million by expanding tech-enabled capabilities, broadening and enhancing relationships with customers, building a world-class leadership team and promoting employee growth and development. Dovel was sold to Guidehouse, a leading global management consultancy firm, in late 2021. Prior to Dovel, Griggs held leadership positions with several technology services providers including InScope International, Inc., Alion Science and Technology, and Washington Consulting, Inc.
MDP shares Jon’s and my vision to build a new platform focused on delivering advanced technical capabilities to address the evolving demands of our federal customers, said Griggs. Jon and I are grateful for the opportunity to join MDP in this next chapter, as we identify highly-regarded businesses that are well-positioned to compete and win in the competitive federal technology services market.
Brooks brings more than 20 years of transactional, legal and compliance experience gained at leading corporations and Am Law 100 law firms. Over the course of his career, Brooks has successfully closed transactions totaling over $7 billion, including Dovel’s sale to Guidehouse, Engility’s sale to SAIC and OSI Pharmaceutical Inc.’s sale to Astellas Pharma Inc. He most recently served as Chief Legal Officer and SVP of Corporate Development for Dovel, supporting the company’s acquisition strategy, while building a world-class legal, compliance and administration function. Prior to joining Dovel, Jon was an executive at Engility Holdings, serving as the head of mergers and acquisitions and deputy general counsel.
Brooks added: Damon and I are pleased to partner with the MDP team as we work to utilize our collective resources, expertise and deep relationships to build a leading government technology and tech-enabled services platform. MDP has established a strong industry presence and we look forward to strengthening the firm’s partnerships with innovative businesses that are defining the future of the industry.
“This partnership creates a unique opportunity to build on our track-record of successful investments in the government software and services sector, Together with Damon and Jon, we are excited to pursue additional investments that will form an industry-leading platform delivering innovative solutions to meet the needs of federal customers across key verticals.”
-Brandon Levitan, a Director on MDP’s Business & Government Software and Services team.
About Madison Dearborn Partners, LLC:
Madison Dearborn Partners, LLC (“MDP”) is a leading private equity investment firm based in Chicago. Since MDP’s formation in 1992, the firm has raised aggregate capital of over $28 billion and has completed over 150 platform investments. MDP invests across five dedicated industry verticals, including basic industries; business and government software and services; financial and transaction services; health care; and telecom, media and technology services.