Alibaba to invest $15b in new research initiative focused on emerging tech

Jack Ma
Alibaba Group executive chairman Jack Ma. Photo: Alibaba Group website

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. today announced a new global research initiative to tackle emerging technology areas such as machine learning, network security and visual computing. The Chinese technology behemoth said it will invest $15 billion over the next years in research and development as part of the new programme.

Alibaba Group’s Chief Technology Officer, Jeff Zhang, will lead the academy.

The new programme, called Alibaba DAMO Academy, will cover setting up of seven new research labs in China, the United States, Russia, Israel and Singapore. The labs will focus on research in the areas of data intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), fintech, quantum computing and human-machine interaction. More specifically, it will concentrate on topics such as machine learning, network security, visual computing and Natural Language Processing (NLP), Alibaba said in a statement.

“The Alibaba DAMO Academy will be at the forefront of developing next-generation technology that will spur the growth of Alibaba and our partners. We aim to discover breakthrough technologies that will enable greater efficiency, network security and ecosystem synergy for end-users and businesses everywhere,” said Zhang.

Alibaba said the new initiative will help it meet its goal to serve 2 billion customers and create 100 million job opportunities in 20 years. The Chinese tech giant now has around 25,000 engineers and scientists on its staff.

The new programme envisages collaborations with educators and researchers globally. An Alibaba statement said it will work with the University of California, Berkeley through its RISE Lab on areas such as secured real-time computing.

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