Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, announced today during its cloud computing conference, that the company will pour $15 billion into research and development over the next three years, covering diverse areas such as Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, fintech, quantum computing and human & computer interaction.
Alibaba has already turning itself into a conglomerate of different business units. The leading e-commerce powerhouse is also the number one mobile payments provider with nearly 57% of digital payments market share in China.
AliPay, the company’s online payment platform, has more than 520 million users globally, while the cloud computing division, AliCloud, has been growing strongly as the company ratcheted up its international presence by investing in e-commerce companies in South Asia and India. Alibaba also owns 51% stake in Cainiao Smart Logistics Network, a logistics company based in China.
The diverse interests of Alibaba can be clearly understood just by looking at the companies it owns and the companies it invests in. Alibaba is now trying to take things even further by investing in technologies that are widely recognized around the world as being able to provide breakthroughs for the future.
Alibaba Group’s Chief Technology Officer, Jeff Zhang, who will head the initiative, said:
“Over the past 18 years, we have developed a robust technology infrastructure that supports the rapid growth of our business. With our global expansion, we have grown and refined our technology manifold. We are now looking for talented and driven researchers to join us in the quest for new disruptive technologies that would advance our every-day lives, benefit small businesses and narrow the technology gap to make our world a more inclusive place.”
The Alibaba DAMO Academy, which the investment will fund, intends to cover real-world applications of disruptive and fundamental technologies. With special talent recruited for the purpose across several labs spread around the world, including at home in China and in countries like the United States, Singapore, Russia and Israel. The initial pool of 100 researchers and scientists will be recruited from all over the world.
Alibaba’s own R&D personnel comprise 25,000 scientists and engineers, but the Academy will be the first such global investment from Jack Ma’s group of companies.