Furthering their shared commitment to democratize access to AI, NITI Aayog and Microsoft India announced an agreement to leverage the benefits of AI for the growth of the nation. As part of the agreement, Microsoft India will support NITI Aayog by combining the cloud, AI, research and its vertical expertise for new initiatives and solutions across several core areas including agriculture and healthcare and the environment. Microsoft will also accelerate the use of AI for the development and adoption of local language computing, in addition to building capacity for AI among the workforce through education.

Announcing the agreement, Shri Amitabh Kant, CEO – NITI Aayog said

For our country, the power of Artificial Intelligence needs to be brought to bear in sectors like healthcare, education, environment and agriculture, which are important for the inclusive development of India. Simultaneously, we should utilize the power of AI to build understanding of the different regional languages prevalent in India under the Hon’ble PM’s call of “Ek Bharat, Shrestha Bharat”. This partnership will help us move beyond pilots and understand how to scale AI implementation in sectors characterized by a preponderance of public goods.

Speaking on the association, Anant Maheshwari, President – Microsoft India said

We are very proud to support NITI Aayog in driving the next leg of India’s transformational journey. AI holds the power to reinvent how we solve societal challenges for socio-economic advancement and support the country’s growth. Microsoft is constantly pushing the boundaries of what technology can do for people and for the world. This collaboration reiterates our efforts to empower every person and organization to do more through technology.

Anna Roy, Adviser, Niti Aayog; Shri Amitabh Kant, CEO – NITI Aayog; Anant Maheshwari, President – Microsoft India

Under the agreement, Microsoft will provide NITI Aayog the following advanced AI-based solutions to address challenges in agriculture and healthcare

  • Farm advisory services – The company will develop farm advisory services to help increase crop yield, pest detection and pest incident predictions as part of projects across locations identified by NITI Aayog. This will involve applying data science, remote sensing and image processing apps to crop maps, yield data and weather data collected over five years. The pest risk detection model will provide information five days in advance of expected attacks.
  • Healthcare screening models at Primary Health Centers – Microsoft will build AI assisted models for Diabetic Retinopathy screening models to support early risk detection, risk assessment and timely medical intervention. These models will be deployed as Proof of Concept [POCs] across Primary Health Centers identified by NITI Aayog. Microsoft will also support NITI Aayog in preparing a blueprint for AI-led Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Programs, which the Central and State Governments can incorporate into their relevant health screening & programs.

The collaboration will also cover the following areas

  • Building capacity for AI through education – Recognizing the fact that proliferation of AI in India would require a focused approach towards capacity building within the ecosystem, the agreement will aim at building capacity among youth. Microsoft will leverage content from the Microsoft India AI Professional Certificate program for developers, academic institutions and students across the country to help skill/re-skill them in the areas of AI and data sciences.

Additionally, Microsoft will promote STEM education in the areas of AI studies and Data sciences for young women in institutes identified by NITI Aayog. This will include a fellowship for select women candidates pursuing post-graduate courses in data sciences and AI, as well as a foundation level AI and data sciences course for young women graduates.

  • Societal Impact Projects – Microsoft Research India [MSRI] will set up a Microsoft – NITI Aayog Problem to Solution Incubation Test Bed within its premises in Bengaluru to develop AI driven solutions for societal problems mutually identified with NITI Aayog.
  • Environment – Microsoft will collaborate with NITI Aayog to identify potential projects on environmental challenges that could be eligible for grants under its worldwide AI for Earth program. If selected, these projects would be eligible for benefits including access to Microsoft Azure and AI computing resources; in-depth education and technology training on these tools and additional support as the projects grow and mature.
  • Natural Language Processing – In keeping with its commitment to lower language barriers to technology, Microsoft will mentor relevant stakeholders to use Natural Language Processing tools in Indic languages in a commercially viable manner.

AI and Microsoft

Microsoft’s goal is to make AI accessible and valuable to every individual and organization, amplifying human ingenuity with intelligent technology. Microsoft is infusing intelligence across all its products and services to extend individuals’ and organizations’ capabilities and make them more productive; providing a powerful platform of AI services and tools that makes innovation by developers and partners faster and more accessible; and helping transform business by enabling breakthroughs to current approaches and entirely new scenarios that leverage the power of intelligent technology.

Microsoft India and SRL Diagnostics announced their partnership to expand the AI Network for Healthcare to pathology. This collaboration will help improve the quality of digital pathology for population screening by bringing together Microsoft’s Azure and AI innovations along with SRL’s world-class expertise in the study of cells and tissues [histology]. With this addition, Microsoft’s AI Network for Healthcare has now expanded to include pathology along with eye-care and cardiology, thus representing the continued efforts made by the organization to democratize healthcare.

Image Source – HealthCare

Growing prevalence of chronic diseases such as cancer is one of the key factors for the need for pathology to transform. Digital pathology is increasingly being preferred as it has helped bring improvement in service delivery, patient safety and communications while reducing errors and lowering costs. Histopathology is a specialized form of pathology for analyzing tissue biopsies [mounted on glass slides] and is used for detecting numerous diseases. Histopathologists require highly efficient tools to assist in diagnosis, thus augmenting the demand for automated and innovative implementation of cloud and AI.

Commenting on the partnership Anil Bhansali, Managing Director, Microsoft India [R&D] Private Limited, said,

Microsoft is committed to empower both the healthcare industry and patients by using AI to democratize healthcare for all. Our partnership with SRL Diagnostics will assist pathologists by equipping them with technology that will augment their capability. This is the third area where we have expanded our AI Network for Healthcare after eye-care and cardiology. We will continue to look for other areas where we can deploy technology to make healthcare more accessible.

Commenting on the partnership Arindam Haldar, Chief Executive Officer, SRL Diagnostics said

In line with SRL’s vision to help people on their path to better health, we are delighted to be partnering with Microsoft to co-create solutions and generate both social and business value. Diagnosis is the first step to disease management, as without accurate identification of the cause there is no possibility of a precise treatment.

With the growing number of samples of cancer, as well as of other diseases, there’s a need to quickly and accurately analyze the samples to help doctors arrive at a diagnosis faster. The AI platform that Microsoft will build in collaboration with SRL is expected to create a software environment infused with millions of data points and knowledge gained from SRL’s expert laboratory professionals.

Microsoft AI Network for Healthcare aims to maximize the ability of AI and cloud computing to accelerate innovation in the healthcare industry and improve the lives of people around the world. By working side-by-side with the healthcare industry’s pioneering players, Microsoft is bringing its capabilities and applying AI to devices for early detection of diabetic retinopathy to prevent blindness. Microsoft has also recently launched an AI-powered Cardiovascular Disease Risk Score API for Indian population.

As the largest diagnostic laboratory in the country, SRL Diagnostics has a repository of more than a million histopathology slides which would be used for training an AI algorithm. By increasing efficiency in the initial steps in a biopsy tissue analysis through artificial neural networks, it will be possible for a histopathology laboratory to cut down on inadvertent manual errors and process more samples in a day with higher level of accuracy.

Microsoft announced grants to seven recipients from India under AI for Earth, its worldwide program aimed at empowering people and organizations to solve global environmental challenges through the power of AI. These grantees will receive access to Microsoft Azure and AI computing resources; in-depth education and technology trainings on these tools and additional support as the projects grow and mature. India now has the third largest concentration of AI for Earth grantees, following the United States and Canada – with the aim of accelerating innovation and building sustainable game changing solutions built on AI technologies and cloud computing.

Image Source – Microsoft

Commenting on the program, Lucas Joppa, Chief Environmental Officer, Microsoft Corporation and Lead for Microsoft AI for Earth, said

In every country around the world, we are facing unprecedented environmental challenges, impacting the ability to access water, grow healthy crops and protect biodiversity. At Microsoft, we’ve found that one thing was accelerating as quickly as the degradation of our planet’s natural resources, and that is technology. Through AI for Earth, we’re making sure that innovative environmental researchers, like the seven here in India, are empowered with Microsoft’s AI in the pursuit of creating a more sustainable future for us all.

The grantees from India, chosen based on their efforts to conserve, protect and rebuild the environment with AI, are

Agriculture

India Institute of Technology – together with the Technical University of Munich,the India Institute of Technology is designing a low-cost tool for monitoring plant health in resource-limited regions. Used directly in the field by farmers, the device will automate the process of disease diagnosis through image analysis on the Azure platform.

International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics [ICRISAT], Hyderabad – ICRISAT is using AI, cognitive services, and cloud computing to enhance pest forecasting and prediction models and farm advisory services to enable sustainable agriculture production in developing parts of the world.

Biodiversity

Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment [ATREE], Bengaluru – ATREE is developing an AI-enabled tool to document and quantitatively assess the abundant habitats and rich biological resources of North-East India.

Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology Delhi – is working on an intelligent tool for identifying and locating monkeys in human habitats, helping researchers implement more effective population control.

Climate Change

Symbiosis Institute of Technology [Smart Meter Data Analytics], Pune – is using both smart meter and socio-economic data to develop an AI-enabled prototype for smart meter data analytics—helping improve energy management for utilities and consumers.

Water

India Institute of Science, Bangalore – is developing a scalable solution using data analytics and machine learning under its Eqwater project to ensure equitable water distribution in India’s large cities.

Symbiosis Institute of Technology, Pune – is developing Smart Environment Information and Management System [SEIMANS] to monitor and predict water, air and soil conditions for a variety of smart city applications, such as utilities and environmental monitoring.

According to Keshav Dhakad, Group Head and Assistant General Counsel – CELA, Microsoft India

At Microsoft, we believe AI for Earth will be a force multiplier for groups and individuals like these who are creating solutions for a more sustainable future for us all. Today’s announcement represents an expansion of Microsoft’s commitment to and investment in democratizing AI and advancing sustainability in the country. We congratulate the recipients and are excited by the potential for advances in AI and sustainability that will benefit India and the world.

AI for Earth is a $50 million, 5-year commitment from Microsoft to put AI at work for the future of the planet. Launched in July 2017, its focus areas are climate change, agriculture, biodiversity and water. In just a year, AI for Earth has grown from 20 grantees to 147 from across more than 40 countries, with $1.1M of Azure credits awarded to date.

To find out more about Microsoft’s AI for Earth initiative and how you can be a part of it, visit Microsoft AI for Earth

As part of Microsoft’s AI Network for Healthcare initiative, Microsoft India and Apollo Hospitals announced the launch of the first ever AI-powered Cardiovascular Disease Risk Score API, designed specifically to predict the risk of Cardiovascular Disease [CVD] in the Indian population. Doctors across the Apollo network of hospitals can now leverage this AI-powered API to predict risk of CVD and drive preventive cardiac care across the country.

According to the National Family Health survey by the Union Health Ministry, one in every eight Indians suffers from high blood pressure. Despite the enormous number of cases, doctors in India are unable to identify the probability of cardiovascular disease, while there are various CVD risk models available worldwide, these do not cater specifically for the Indian population. 

Built on Microsoft Azure, this API aims to determine a more accurate CVD risk score for the Indian population. It has been developed using a combination of applied AI and clinical expertise on a large sample of retrospective data on health checks and coronary events. The scoring considers risk contributors including lifestyle attributes such as diet, tobacco & smoking preferences and physical activity as well as psychological stress & anxiety as reflected via rate of respiration, hypertension and systolic & diastolic blood pressure. The score categorizes risk into high, moderate and minimal and also provides insights on the top modifiable risk contributors, thereby assisting physicians to consult patients in a more holistic way, while providing insights to patients for lifestyle modification and timely interventions.

Commenting on the initiative, Sangita Reddy, Joint Managing Director, Apollo Hospitals said

This partnership is part of our continuing endeavour to design new tools and equip our doctors in the fight against non-communicable diseases. The amalgamation of artificial intelligence and machine learning with the global expertise of our doctors will help prevent heart disease, save lives and ensure those with heart disease can make informed choices on their health. We are confident that the combined power of Apollo and Microsoft can make a meaningful impact to stem the rise of heart disease in India.

Anil Bhansali, Managing Director, Microsoft India (R&D) Private Limited, said

We believe in the impact technology can have, specifically how Microsoft AI, Azure and collaboration with our partners like Apollo, can come together and transform the healthcare sector. This heart risk score for Indian populace is a true example of how precision healthcare can accelerate prevention of cardio vascular disease and reduce disease burden.

The risk score model continues to be validated across multiple private and public health systems. Apollo and Microsoft are also engaging global consortium partners to calibrate and scale this intelligent system for other population groups. 

Microsoft AI Network for Healthcare aims to maximize the ability of artificial intelligence and cloud computing to accelerate innovation in the healthcare industry and improve the lives of people around the world. Introduction of this intelligent system in partnership with Apollo Hospitals is a huge step in this journey.

The Economist Intelligence Unit [EIU] has published the results of a Microsoft-sponsored study entitled, Intelligent Economies: AI’s Transformation of Industries and Society. The study draws on a survey of more than 400 senior executives working in various industries, including financial services, healthcare and life sciences, manufacturing, retail and the public sector.

The survey was conducted in eight markets: France, Germany, Mexico, Poland, South Africa, Thailand, the UK and the US. Essentially, the study explores the transformative potential of Artificial Intelligence [AI] on markets and societies across the developed and developing worlds.

As AI becomes increasingly embedded in the society, it will not only change the businesses that adopt it but will also have significant economic, social and civic effects on citizens and consumers. National and regional economies will become more effective in the way they produce and distribute goods and services. But such transformations will also introduce new challenges such as ethical or security concerns as well as cost and execution risk. This study is aimed at helping senior business and public-sector leaders understand the significant social potential of AI across industries and countries, with special attention devoted to the differences between advanced and emerging markets. In particular, Intelligent economies explores to what extent corporate and government decision-makers believe AI will help meet their toughest challenges, including growth, productivity, innovation and job creation.

Overall, AI is on course to transform the global economy – and organizations around the world have high hopes for its potential. As per the report, in 2017 the global economy recorded its best performance in six years and looks set for sustained growth in 2018. The Economist Intelligence Unit expects global growth of 3.8%, surpassing 2017’s growth rate of 3.7% and well above 2016’s 3.2%.

Key findings of the ‘Intelligent Economies – AI’s Transformation of Industries and Society‘ study

  • Businesses expect AI to have a positive impact on growth [90%], productivity [86%], innovation [84%] and job creation [69%] in their country and industry
  • Nine out of ten executives from around the world [94%] describe AI as important to solving their organizations’ strategic challenges
  • More than one in four [27%] say their organizations have already incorporated AI into key processes and services, while another 46% have one or more AI pilot projects under way
  • Despite often-expressed concerns about job displacement, respondents were broadly optimistic that AI will create new roles. Overall, nearly six out of ten [59%] believe that AI will increase wages and 56% actually see a boost to the employment rate in their country or industry
  • Surprisingly, developing economies are significantly more bullish about the positive effects of AI, with 83% of them expecting an increase, compared with just six out of ten respondents in advanced economies
  • Financial services respondents report particularly high levels of virtual assistant adoption [48%], but they’re also using predictive analytics [38%] and machine learning [36%]. The public sector, meanwhile, has particularly high levels of machine learning adoption [34%].

For more information, please refer to the link here.

Racetrack.ai – India’s First AI Innovation Hub for Sales & Support, has raised $5 Million funding from a clutch of national & international investors. The investors include Murali Krishnan [Ex-President & Founding Member, Biocon], Dov Kagan [a renowned USA based investor]. The list also has names of investors from Singapore, Mauritius, and most of its existing investors.

Subrat Parida, Founder & CEO Racetrack.ai, said

This is really an overwhelming and positive moment for all of us. We are now looking forward and are excited to announce our next overseas operation base in USA, Mauritius and Singapore.

This move will help us delve into newer business verticals like retail, banking and healthcare. This boost in our physical presence will open new doors for us to partner with intercontinental brands and decision makers while helping us to create global footprint in the AI industry.

Being a pioneer in India’s AI sector, this AI startup offers two flagship products: MARVIN & TURING. While MARVIN is world’s first SmartBot for sales & support, TURING on the other hand is world’s smartest online & offline Business Accelerator that helps in better business planning and execution. With these two products, Racetrack.ai is targeting the fast booming $100 Billion AI market. Investors are positive on their recent moves and have high expectations on Racetrack.ai.

Subrat Parida -Founder & CEO, Racetrack.ai

As the global AI market is rocketing up, Racetrack.ai is focussing on business verticals like BFSI, Education, Health, Hospitality, and Real Estate. With the possibilities, capabilities, and scopes getting wider, Racetrack.ai is all set to expand its operation base to USA, Singapore, and Mauritius.

About Racetrack.ai

Racetrack.ai – India’s First AI Innovation Hub, endeavours to empower businesses by igniting meaningful communication with consumers. It helps businesses to understand consumers:  analyse their requirements & sentiments, suggest them solutions and ensures smooth on-boarding. Racetrack.ai believes Artificial Intelligence as a handshake between humans and modern-day machines to address the vital needs of consumers. For more information, please visit Racetrack.ai

Netcore, a global Marketing Technology Company that offers solutions for enterprises that redefine Digital Marketing, organized a corporate training programme on Artificial Intelligence [AI] and Machine Learning [ML] for Marketers to get an edge in this new age of technology. Aimed at educating markets about the benefits of deploying these technologies, the initiative covered the essentials on 1. How AI-enabled Marketing can enhance customer Experience and 2. The 4 W’s of AI and beginning the AI journey to increase ROI on your campaigns.

Image Source – NetCore

Marketers today have moved from a ‘batch & blast’ approach to a behavior – based approach in their marketing automation strategy. By deploying analytics tools, marketers are able to set smart triggers based on various criteria such as RFM [Recency, Frequency, & Monetary analysis] combined with demographic & category affinity.

With the advent of Artificial Intelligence, these professionals can derive greater value from their strategies with hyper-personalize campaigns aimed at creating 1:1 customer experiences. These technologies also enable a multi-fold increase in the Customer Life Cycle as AI allows one to harness data, and analyze it to generate insights in response to unpredictable situations, and that too in real time.

Commenting on the benefits of deploying AI and ML to marketing campaign, Netcore spokesperson said

Successful brands today have good offerings for the customer backed with a strong technologies and solutions including cloud services. However, a unified view of the customer is possible with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning who are key differentiators in a highly competitive market scenario where brands must continuously and innovatively engage with the customer. The workshop for marketers aimed to demystify several benefits and deployment of new age technologies like AI, ML and deep learning for their marketing campaigns.

The training program provided a framework to evaluate the maturity of an organisation in their Analytics journey and provided fundamentals for Machine Learning techniques and core algorithms. Conducted by experts from the field, the programme included

  • Learning supervised and unsupervised ML techniques and knowing the right algorithm to choose for a given problem like fraud detection, HR attrition, Churn prediction, Segmentation, Email send time optimization
  • Showcased case studies from various sectors i.e. Banking to Aviation, to address several challenges and understand how to apply the right algorithm for a given problem like fraud detection, HR attrition, Churn prediction, Segmentation, Email send time optimization
  • Group activities where participants brainstormed and presented 360 degree view of customer across various industries like e-commerce, Travel, Banking and Automotive
  • Quiz and open discussions around ML algorithms, techniques and applications in different scenarios for an organisation

About NetCore Solutions

Netcore, a global Marketing Technology Company that offers solutions for enterprises that redefine Digital Marketing. The first and leading Marketing Automation, Analytics and AI/ ML solutions provider in India, Netcore was established in 1997 by Rajesh Jain, an Internet pioneer. Netcore’s Digital Marketing suite also includes Promotional and Transactional Email Marketing and Mobile Marketing. For more information, please visit Netcore

Uniphore Software Systems has been awarded the NASSCOM AI Game Changer Awards for 2018 under Speech Recognition category for its innovative Automated Speech Recognition [ASR] engine for language processing. The award is instituted by NASSCOM’s Centre of Excellence; Data Science and Artificial Intelligence [CoE-DSAI].

Image Source – Uniphore

Uniphore’s award winning innovation, ASR engine for language processing converts speech to text. This engine is trained to understand the differing accents, pronunciations and vocabulary that are common in the Indian languages as well. This has led to significant improvement in overall customer experience and brand loyalty for the enterprises.

While commenting on this recognition, Umesh Sachdev, CEO – Uniphore Software Solutions said

We are very happy and proud of this recognition from NASSCOM. Speech Recognition is the most complex deep technology space. Uniphore has built three products which unleashes the power of speech for enterprises. Our products help enterprises to mine the big data and help deliver better business out comes and superior customer experience. Today our products can recognize 100 plus global languages, including 17 Indian languages.

NASSCOM has constituted AI Game Changer Awards award to recognize, showcase & publish the most innovative, high impact and high-tech AI solutions that organizations have delivered internally or to their clients. The award that featured 50 innovative ideas in AI included categories like NLP, IoT, computer vision, advanced analytics and robotic process automation apart from speech recognition.

About Uniphore

Uniphore Software Systems is headquartered in IIT Madras Research Park, Chennai. Uniphore was incubated in IIT Chennai, India in 2008 and currently has offices in India, Singapore and U.A.E with about 100 employees spread across all locations. Uniphore’s investors include John Chambers, Kris Gopalakrishnan, IDG Ventures India, India Angel Network, YourNest Angel Fund and Ray Stata. Uniphore has worked with over 70 enterprise customers and served over 4 million end users.