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Scale AI to invest $2M in Smart Port Lab at the Port of Ponce

San Francisco-based Scale AI will invest $2 million to transform the Port of Ponce into a Smart Lab Port through the adoption of new technologies and to convert the southern facility into an artificial intelligence technology center.

AI-enabled infrastructure will be researched, built and exported to global shipping ports from the Port of Ponce in partnership with the Ponce Port Authority, government and company officials said during a news conference.

“Scale supports the world’s most ambitious AI projects, and Scale’s Smart Port Lab in Ponce is no exception,” said Michael Kratsios, managing director at Scale AI. “We’re thrilled to partner with the Ponce Port Authority to build a first-of-its-kind, world-class Smart Port Lab.”

Michael Kratsios, managing director at Scale AI, offers details of the project.

Scale’s Smart Port Lab is an opportunity to partner with local Ponce officials to increase port activity and aid in the island’s economic recovery. The Port of Ponce was recently hit by a series of natural disasters including the 2020 earthquakes, Hurricane María and, most recently, Hurricane Fiona. The economic impact of these disasters has been significant, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) designated the port as a disaster site as a result.

At the news conference, officials spoke about Scale’s Smart Port Lab and noted that it will generate local jobs while introducing Smart Port infrastructure at a global level.

“The competitiveness of the 21st century is measured in talent, in labor development, in ease of doing business, in an agile government, in access to capital. But it’s also measured in the capacity of a jurisdiction, its connectivity and its logistics,” said the secretary of the Department of Economic Development and Commerce of Puerto Rico, Manuel Cidre.

“Within that context of connectivity and logistics, without a doubt, this brings several options to the table. We have to teach workers and our students to do what the robot does, teach them to insert themselves into a different technology that allows them access to high-value work and employment, which is what Smart Lab brings to Puerto Rico,” he said during the news conference.

He said having this AI project at the Port of Ponce will “differentiate Puerto Rico from its closest competitors, such as the Dominican Republic.

“The Dominican Republic in the past 10 years has developed fantastic port facilities, and emulating that would be hard for Puerto Rico,” Cidre said. “However, inserting technology in the port process, in the loading process, in the routing process, in the mapping process, elevates us to be able to be a future provider of these concepts next to us, which is undoubtedly a relevant position for Puerto Rico.”

H. Calero, a Puerto Rican economic consulting firm, assessed the project’s benefit for the local economy at $139 billion, potentially up to $159 billion.

The Smart Port Lab will generate jobs in the Ponce area that will help members of the community advance their careers and earning potential, with plans to expand the facility and increase hiring in the coming year. Scale’s investment will enhance operational processes at the port and modernize shipping and transportation equipment, where innovation has traditionally been stagnant, officials said.

This includes “unifying siloed shipping and port data, developing AI-enabled, remote ship-to-shore operation capabilities and enabling the digital tracking of assets in and around the port,” as well as equipping terminal operators with full visibility of their shipping logistics and supply chain networks from the comfort of a command center.

“We truly believe that this Smart Port Lab is a game-changer for economic development, particularly for the city of Ponce, and this initiative will really help Ponce become a critical hub for inbound and outbound logistics protocol,” said Invest Puerto Rico CEO Ella Woger-Nieves.

“Puerto Rico has been a global logistics leader for more than 30 years, particularly when it comes to sensitive and temperature-controlled goods, and this initiative is only going to further position the island as a global logistics leader and that’s exactly what we need. We need to be able to showcase that Puerto Rico has the ingredients to be a central hub for innovation,” she said.

Scale accelerates the development of AI within organizations to deliver critical business insights and operational efficiency. Its data-centric infrastructure platform leverages Reinforced Learning with Human Feedback (RLHF) to help organizations build the strongest AI models, enabling companies to “deploy algorithms that supercharge their business.”

The company was founded in 2016 and is valued at $7.3 billion, backed by Founders Fund, Accel, Index and Tiger Global.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 29 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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