For the past two years, HP Labs and HP’s Print R&D Center in Bangalore, India have been working together to build a new center of excellence in the fields of applied machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). The group now houses nearly two dozen researchers and is already impacting multiple company initiatives in the area of service optimization.
“Machine learning and AI are proving to be of value for solving an ever wider range of problems, but expertise in these fields remains hard to come by,” notes Dr. Niranjan Damera-Venkata, a Distinguished Technologist in HP’s Artificial Intelligence & Emerging Compute Lab and Head of AI research in India for HP Labs. “So we need to be developing these skills internally in multiple locations across the world.”
This thinking inspired HP Labs’ leadership to ask Dr. Damera-Venkata, who was already based in Bangalore, to reach out to the company’s Print R&D Center, HP’s largest R&D group in India, to grow the company’s applied AI capability in the country.
They have done that through a collaboration that has encouraged existing Print R&D researchers to extend their areas of expertise, and by tapping Bangalore’s rich tech ecosystem through new hires, internships, and academic partnerships with top Indian universities. A collaboration with the Indian Institute of Science, for example, is focusing on building new approaches to predictive diagnostics for the industrial Internet of Things (IoT).
"We’re optimally located to source applied machine learning talent from the best technical universities in India but we're also keen to hone the machine learning and AI skills of our talented software engineers by having them tackle challenging, real world problems,” says Ashok Waran, Head of HP’s Print R&D Center, Bangalore. Where college AI courses typically have students working on cleaned-up data sets, Waran adds, “the data informing the problems we need to solve are complex and messy – and because of that our engineers are learning applied skills that they simply can’t acquire in any other kind of environment.”