Grab has unveiled an R&D centre based in Kuala Lumpur, highlighting its commitment to nurturing deep tech talent in its home region. This is Grab’s seventh centre worldwide and is an extension of its global R&D footprint that currently includes teams based in Singapore, Jakarta, Bangalore, Beijing, Ho Chi Minh City and Seattle.
The ride hailing company plans to hire 100 tech employees for its Kuala Lumpur R&D centre in its first year of operations, including software engineers, data scientists and data analysts. The team will focus on developing and enhancing real-time communications features such as VOIP calls via GrabChat, building new and exciting web products for Grab, and improving and developing new safety measures through machine learning.
Since the end of last year, Grab has doubled its tech headcount across its six R&D centres, and plans to add 1,000 new tech roles in 2019. Grab’s expansion of its R&D network will support its continued growth and evolution as it moves to become the first everyday super app in Southeast Asia.
While the majority of the team will continue to work on core transport projects, the growth in Grab’s tech unit will fuel continued development of GrabPlatform, a suite of APIs for partners to integrate their services with Grab, as the company prepares to see a surge in partnerships and services over the next 12 months. Grab is also boosting its AI capabilities as it aims to leverage its data to not only improve and develop new services, but also to solve some of the region’s most complex challenges such as congestion and financial inclusion.
Grab’s chief technology officer, Theo Vassilakis, said Grab does not build tech for tech’s sake. Instead, it builds to solve problems, create opportunities, lift people and economies.
“That’s why we continue to fortify our team and invest in talent, to meet the scale of our ambition and the challenges we want to solve. Our decision to establish an R&D centre in Malaysia is an extension of our philosophy of developing highly localized solutions in the countries where our consumers live,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ditesh Gathani, Grab’s head of engineering, said the R&D centre enables it to continue tapping into the rich talent pool in Malaysia, and contribute towards developing and nurturing the deep tech talent in the country, particularly in areas such as machine learning.