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Vietnam’s Skills In AI Help Precision Medicine Companies

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Vietnam's Skills In AI Help Precision Medicine Companies

Investments in health technology, particularly in precision medicine, are benefiting from Vietnam’s quick advances in artificial intelligence and technology.

According to DealStreetAsia’s Data Vantage’s “SE Asia Deal Review: Q4 2023” report, health tech investments in Southeast Asia remained up despite the general pessimism surrounding fundraising in 2023. The sector’s startups raised $580 million from 60 agreements. Vietnam was in third place in the area with 3.9% of the investments, while firms in far larger economies like Singapore and Indonesia took home the majority of the funding for health tech.

According to analysts, there has been a surge in interest in Vietnam’s health tech sector in recent times, as there is optimism that the utilization of artificial intelligence can accelerate advancements like precision medicine.

“Vietnam has numerous promising companies in this sector, the market is still at an early stage,” said Vy Le, co-founder and general partner of the venture capital firm Do Ventures.

Precision medicine, also referred to as “personalized medicine,” creates individualized treatments for conditions like cancer, diabetes, or Alzheimer’s by using a patient’s genetic profile. Put another way, a personalized strategy based on the patient’s DNA replaces the typical one-size-fits-all approach to diagnosis and therapy. The promise of AI in this area is that people will be able to affordably sequence their genomes.

Gene Solutions is one of the precision medicine firms in Vietnam that has drawn venture capital. In its Series B funding round, the business brought in $21 million last year. According to the Data Vantage analysis, the transaction, which was led by Mekong Capital, ranked as the seventh-largest health tech deal in Southeast Asia in 2023. Mekong Capital made a $15 million investment in Gene Solutions in 2021.

DealStreetAsia revealed in September 2023 that Gene Solutions is aiming to raise $50 million in a Series C investment.

Established in 2017, Gene Solutions focuses on using DNA markers to identify the existence of specific diseases. It has aided in the detection of chromosomal abnormalities in expectant mothers, averting genetic issues, and assisting with in-vitro fertilization. It seeks to lower the cost of genetic testing and increase accessibility.

One of Gene Solutions’ competitive advantages, according to Chris Freund, founder and partner of Mekong Capital, is “how fast-moving” company. For instance, when we first invested, it was just an idea to grow outside of Vietnam. However, in the last two years, they have successfully partnered with top hospital groups and cancer institutes in [the] Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Singapore, with partial support from a Singaporean lab.

Gene Solutions has completed more than 350,000 genetic tests in the previous five years.

GeneStory is another company in the field; Vingroup founded it in 2022 with a charter capital of 102.3 billion dong ($4.4 million). GeneStory seeks to offer “fast and comprehensive genetic testing services based on a large Vietnamese dataset, exclusively for Vietnamese people.” But in 2022, the conglomerate itself sold a confidential interest in GeneStory. In order to develop individualized health care programs, the startup provides assessments of people’s medical, physical, and dietary risks as well as hereditary characteristics.

Vietnamese venture-backed precision medicine businesses also include Genetica Company, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to decipher DNA. The 2018-founded company received $2.5 million from Silicon Valley investors in a pre-Series A investment round in 2021.

Genetica has introduced a gene-decoding device that employs artificial intelligence (AI) to determine a person’s genetic susceptibility to respiratory virus infection.

Southeast Asia is seeing a boom in genomic research and development at the same time as interest in precision medicine. The “Harnessing Genomic Medicine and Gene NFT in Southeast Asia” report by DealStreetAsia and Genetica, published in August 2023, states that the region’s unique and diverse genetic makeup is being highlighted through the development of genomic datasets driven by both private-sector initiatives and government-supported programs.

AI has been used in healthcare for a longer period of time than in many other industries, according to Yinglan Tan, CEO and founding managing partner of Insignia Ventures Partners. Applications of AI in healthcare include risk assessment, predictive analytics, and medical imaging. He emphasized that the Asia-Pacific area, particularly Southeast Asia, presents substantial growth potential, holding a 13% share of the worldwide AI health care market.

The increasing need for individualized health care solutions is one of the main factors driving funding for precision medicine firms. Customers are looking for specialized medical solutions as they grow more health-conscious.

“As the tests become even more precise over the coming years, it will enable Gene Solutions to detect diseases with increasingly smaller DNA segments. The cost of those tests will also come down. Eventually, such tests will be affordable for the mass market in Vietnam and Southeast Asia,” said Freund of Mekong Capital.

Through a number of programs and incentives, the Vietnamese government has also been instrumental in supporting the development of precision medicine firms. With the help of the government, a favorable atmosphere for entrepreneurs has been established, drawing both domestic and foreign investors to the emerging health technology market.

Investors are conscious of the constraints, too, such as the fact that the regulatory environment for health IT businesses is still developing. “Investing in biotech companies is typically challenging for VC funds in Vietnam. This industry demands specialized funds with experts in the field,”, according to Vy Le of Do Ventures.

In addition, venture capital funds usually have an investment horizon of four to five years, but the biotech sector needs more time to succeed. This implies that additional government funding is needed. Le gave the example of South Korea, where the government runs a fund specifically intended to invest in biotech investments at different phases of development.

However, new trends in fundraising give the industry hope.

The “The State of Healthtech in SE Asia 2023” DealStreetAsia Data Vantage report discovered that from January 2020 to September 2023, 46% of the region’s health tech startups’ total deal volume and 72% of their equity funding came from investments in deep tech fields related to health care, such as genomics, molecular biology, artificial intelligence, and biometric sensing.

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Biden, Kishida Secure Support from Amazon and Nvidia for $50 Million Joint AI Research Program

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As the two countries seek to enhance cooperation around the rapidly advancing technology, President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida have enlisted Amazon.com Inc. and Nvidia Corp. to fund a new joint artificial intelligence research program.

A senior US official briefed reporters prior to Wednesday’s official visit at the White House, stating that the $50 million project will be a collaborative effort between Tsukuba University outside of Tokyo and the University of Washington in Seattle. A separate collaborative AI research program between Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and Tokyo’s Keio University is also being planned by the two nations.

The push for greater research into artificial intelligence comes as the Biden administration is weighing a series of new regulations designed to minimize the risks of AI technology, which has developed as a key focus for tech companies. The White House announced late last month that federal agencies have until the end of the year to determine how they will assess, test, and monitor the impact of government use of AI technology.

In addition to the university-led projects, Microsoft Corp. announced on Tuesday that it would invest $2.9 billion to expand its cloud computing and artificial intelligence infrastructure in Japan. Brad Smith, the president of Microsoft, met with Kishida on Tuesday. The company released a statement announcing its intention to establish a new AI and robotics lab in Japan.

Kishida, the second-largest economy in Asia, urged American business executives to invest more in Japan’s developing technologies on Tuesday.

“Your investments will enable Japan’s economic growth — which will also be capital for more investments from Japan to the US,” Kishida said at a roundtable with business leaders in Washington.

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OnePlus and OPPO Collaborate with Google to Introduce Gemini Models for Enhanced Smartphone AI

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As anticipated, original equipment manufacturers, or OEMs, are heavily integrating AI into their products. Google is working with OnePlus, OPPO, and other companies to integrate Gemini models into their smartphones. They intend to introduce the Gemini models on smartphones later this year, becoming the first OEMs to do so. Gemini models will go on sale later in 2024, as announced at the Google Cloud Next 24 event. Gemini models are designed to provide users with an enhanced artificial intelligence (AI) experience on their gadgets.

Customers in China can now create AI content on-the-go with devices like the OnePlus 12 and OPPO Find X7 thanks to OnePlus and OPPO’s Generative AI models.

The AI Eraser tool was recently made available to all OnePlus customers worldwide. This AI-powered tool lets users remove unwanted objects from their photos. For OnePlus and OPPO, AI Eraser is only the beginning.

In the future, the businesses hope to add more AI-powered features like creating original social media content and summarizing news stories and audio.

AndesGPT LLM from OnePlus and OPPO powers AI Eraser. Even though the Samsung Galaxy S24 and Google Pixel 8 series already have this feature, it is still encouraging to see OnePlus and OPPO taking the initiative to include AI capabilities in their products.

OnePlus and OPPO devices will be able to provide customers with a more comprehensive and sophisticated AI experience with the release of the Gemini models. It is important to remember that OnePlus and OPPO already power the Trinity Engine, which makes using phones incredibly smooth, and use AI and computational mathematics to enhance mobile photography.

By 2024, more original equipment manufacturers should have AI capabilities on their products. This is probably going to help Google because OEMs will use Gemini as the foundation upon which to build their features.

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Meta Explores AI-Enabled Search Bar on Instagram

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In an attempt to expand the user base for its generative AI-powered products, Meta is moving forward. The business is experimenting with inserting Meta AI into the Instagram search bar for both chat with AI and content discovery, in addition to testing the chatbot Meta AI with users in nations like India on WhatsApp.

When you type a query into the search bar, Meta AI initiates a direct message (DM) exchange in which you can ask questions or respond to pre-programmed prompts. Aravind Srinivas, CEO of Perplexity AI, pointed out that the prompt screen’s design is similar to the startup’s search screen.

Plus, it might make it easier for you to find fresh Instagram content. As demonstrated in a user-posted video on Threads, you can search for Reels related to a particular topic by tapping on a prompt such as “Beautiful Maui sunset Reels.”

Additionally, TechCrunch spoke with a few users who had the ability to instruct Meta AI to look for recommendations for Reels.

By using generative AI to surface new content from networks like Instagram, Meta hopes to go beyond text generation.

With TechCrunch, Meta verified the results of its Instagram AI experiment. But the company didn’t say whether or not it uses generative AI technology for search.

A Meta representative told TechCrunch, “We’re testing a range of our generative AI-powered experiences publicly in a limited capacity. They are under development in varying phases.”

There are a ton of posts available discussing Instagram search quality. It is therefore not surprising that Meta would want to enhance search through the use of generative AI.

Furthermore, Instagram should be easier to find than TikTok, according to Meta. In order to display results from Reddit and TikTok, Google unveiled a new perspectives feature last year. Instagram is developing a feature called “Visibility off Instagram” that could allow posts to appear in search engine results, according to reverse engineer Alessandro Paluzzi, who made this discovery earlier this week on X.

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