Alibaba Group, one of the largest e-commerce platforms in the world, has announced that it will be investing $15 billion into a global research and development initiative. The company will spend the money over the course of three years.
The initiative is dubbed the Alibaba DAMO Academy. According to the Chinese e-commerce giant, the program is designed to accelerate its lofty ambition of serving at least 2 billion customers and creating over 100 million jobs by 2036.
The initiative will also explore new possibilities of increasing technological collaborations worldwide. Alibaba has also added that it is in the process of recruiting 100 researchers into the program. DAMO stands for Discovery, Adventure, Momentum, Outlook. The program will be headed by Jeff Zhang, the chief technology officer at the Alibaba Group.
The first step will be to open new labs in seven different cities across the world:
The research group working on the initiative will also collaborate with leading universities including U.C. Berkeley’s RISE Lab. U.C. Berkeley and its RISE Lab are currently developing innovations that will enable computers to make secure decisions based on real-time data.
DAMO Academy’s advisory board includes a number of notable academics from some of the top universities in the world including Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Peking University, Beijing Institute of Technology, Columbia University, and Zhejiang University. The research and development program will focus on a number of key thematic areas. Some of the major areas of focus will be data intelligence, quantum computing, financial technology, the Internet of things, and human-machine interactions.
Alibaba has become the latest in a list of major Chinese companies that are engaging technology researchers in the U.S. and other countries around the world. The company is also creating funding opportunities for research and development. Programs like DAMO are designed to allow these companies to tap into a quality talent pool in countries abroad without necessarily convincing researchers to relocate to China.
Baidu is one of the Chinese firms that has already established a research lab in Silicon Valley and the company is recruiting professionals from top American universities. WeChat maker, Tencent, also announced its plan to set up a lab in Seattle that will be fully dedicated towards research and development.
Huawei has followed the same trend by entering into a research partnership with U.C. Berkeley. The partnership received an initial research funding of $1 million. However, the $15 billion investment by Alibaba is the biggest so far and it’s clear that the Chinese giant is leaving nothing to chance in its efforts to dominate the global e-commerce market for a long time.