Fano Labs, a Hong Kong-based artificial intelligence (AI) startup specializing in speech and natural language processing (NLP) technologies, has raised a Series Pre-A round led by Horizons Ventures. Previously, it has received support from angel investors, the University of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Science Park, the Hong Kong Government Innovation and Technology Agency and Zeroth.ai.
Fano Labs was co-founded in 2015 by Dr. Miles Wen, a Ph.D. graduate from the University of Hong Kong (HKU) and a former Fulbright Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley. and Prof. Victor Li, Chair Professor, and Head of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at HKU, IEEE Fellow, and a BBS winner.
With Fano Labs’ technical focus on Chinese dialects processing and analysis, the funds raised will fuel the company’s expansion into the billion-dollar Chinese call center industry, where Chinese consumer-facing enterprises require all calls at call centers to be recorded, but only a small percentage of which are reviewed. Many of these calls are in various Chinese dialects, a hugely underserved market that Fano Labs intends to explore by having its proprietary AI system listen to all these recorded phone calls, analyze them and provide managers with valuable business intelligence. This would enable companies to have better quality control over their call centers and, at the same time, greatly lower the time cost. So far, Fano Labs has already developed speech and NLP technologies for Cantonese and Sichuanese, in addition to English and Mandarin, and signed some of Asia’s largest enterprises, including property developers, utility companies, and telecommunication companies.
“We are a team of scientists and engineers. Our world-class technical expertise in speech and NLP technologies would empower us to revolutionize the way call centers operate. Our bond with HKU, one of the oldest universities in the region, brings us deep intellectual and academic resources. We aim to be the hub of AI in Asia.” says Dr. Wen, co-founder, and CEO of Fano Labs.
Horizons Ventures’ Phil Chen says “Horizons has a heritage of investing in industry-shaping speech and NLP technologies starting from Siri, Viv, and now Fano Labs. We love deep-tech companies that apply this AI power to improve critical problems of human communications. Fano Labs’ solutions for multiple dialects reminds us of the story of pushing down the Tower of Babel.”
“Fano Labs was named in memory of Prof. Robert Fano, a pioneer in AI, who invented Shannon-Fano coding, Fano Inequality, and founded MIT’s CSAIL. My co-founder, Prof. Li, was my Ph.D. advisor and Prof. Fano was Prof Li’s Ph.D. advisor’s Ph.D. advisor. This heritage of innovation is what moves our team forward.”, Dr. Wen adds.
About Fano Labs Limited
Fano Labs is a Hong Kong-based artificial intelligence startup specializing in speech recognition and natural language processing technologies. With the technical focus on Chinese dialects processing and analysis, Fano Labs helps enterprises conduct compliance assurance and data mining in their call centers. Fano Labs is a spin-off from the University of Hong Kong and operates both in Hong Kong and mainland China.
About Horizons Ventures
Horizons Ventures, the private investment company of Mr. Li Ka-shing, is a leading investor in some of the world’s most innovative companies and disruptive technologies, including Facebook, Spotify, Impossible Foods, Improbable, Zoom, Blockstream, Soul Machines, and ChromaDex
For more information, please visit http://horizonsventures.com/