Swedish telecom gear maker Ericsson has acquired workforce of Niche AI for its Bengaluru-based artificial intelligence centre, and looking for more buyouts to build a team of 150 high-tech engineers for India operations this year, a senior company official said.

The company started India wing of Global Artificial Intelligence Accelerator (GAIA) last year to develop open-source solution to modernise telecom network, using AI and machine learning.

“We are looking at both organic hiring, one by one through recruitment off the market, as well as what you might call as inorganic, which is more through acquisitions and acquihires (acquiring only talents). One such company that we have acquired is Niche AI,” Sanjeev Tyagi, Head of Ericsson R&D Bengaluru told PTI.

Ericsson has plans to have a team of around 300 highly qualified engineers in GAIA by end of 2019 of which half are expected to be located in India.

“We continue to be on our target and towards our objective, we have hired more than 75 engineers between Bangalore and Chennai and with a couple of dozen more expected to join in the coming months and we continue to recruit actively,” Tyagi said.

The company is acquiring talents from companies for GAIA and not their assets like patents, clients etc.

Tyagi said that as 5G technology will start spreading, there will be a huge proliferation of the internet of things devices and a large number of different elements in the network, which can be efficiently managed only through AI and ML-like technologies and for which GAIA is developing solutions.

“The exponential growth in IoT devices will mean that the traditional methods of managing networks are no longer going to scale and that is an area where we are going to need self-organizing, self-healing, self-governing networks using AI and ML. We’re also looking at leveraging machine learning techniques to optimize the volume of signalling needed between a 5G handset and the radio base station to conserve battery life,” Tyagi said.

He did not disclose financial details of Niche AI acquisition.

“We have been evaluating companies based on size, their core competence, the capabilities of the engineering team, cultural fit, and several other parameters. Niche AI was one company that we found suitable on all fronts. The size of the acquisition itself is small — and that is something we found across the board. Niche AI ‘acquihire’ was in single digits in terms of the size of the workforce,” Tyagi said.