$15 billion: Alibaba to cash in big for new technologies


HANGZHOU-Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. says it will almost triple spending on research and development, to more than $15 billion over the next three years, as it seeks to keep pace with Western rivals such as Alphabet Inc. and Amazon.com Inc.

"The labs will help solve issues that Alibaba is now facing across its business lines", Alibaba chief technology officer Jeff Zhang (張建鋒) said in a telephone interview.

The research programme will be headed by Alibaba's Chief Technology Officer, Jeff Zhan, and has been named DAMO Academy, or the Academy for Discovery, Adventure, Momentum and Outlook.

The first point of focus for the academy will be setting up seven research labs across China, the US, Russia, Israel and Singapore. Over 100 scientists worldwide who specialize in different aspects of AI, quantum computing, and the IoT will also be hired. On top of this, it is also now recruiting 100 more researchers from across the world. The company announced the investment to raise collaboration and develop innovative technologies on October 11, 2017.

Over the next three years the group intends to fund projects in data intelligence, Internet of Things, financial technology (or fintech) and quantum computing. The company has built an advisory board for the academy includes professors from a number of leading research institutions both in China and the U.S. In addition, the company plans to work with local partners to drive its research forward.

Alibaba outlined the program will help it to meet its long-term commitment to create 100 million jobs and serve 2 billion customers in 20 years.

The Chinese giant and its affiliates have undergone a rapid expansion in the past year, bringing it into direct competition with USA e-retailer Amazon.com Inc., as well as global payments, cloud and logistics firms. "We aim to discover breakthrough technologies that will enable greater efficiency, network security and ecosystem synergy for end-users and businesses everywhere".