Alibaba plans $15 billion investment for tech R&D at DAMO Academy

Following in the footsteps of technology giants, including IBM and Microsoft, China’s Alibaba will create a research and development program, called DAMO Academy, through an investment of US$15 billion over the next three years. DAMO Academy will include eight research bases in seven cities across the world.

At the Computing Conference 2017 in Hangzhou today, Alibaba’s executive chairman Jack Ma said he envisions the DAMO Academy as being created to “solve the problems of the future,” and sees the academy as going “beyond IBM and Intel and Microsoft, because it’s born in the 21st century and will take the late-mover advantage.” Research areas for the academy are expected to include data intelligence, the “internet of things” (IoT), fintech, quantum computing and human-machine interaction.

Ma’s grand vision for Alibaba, which requires the company to continue doing business for at least another 84 years, also applies to the DAMO Academy. For the academy to be a success, Ma said it will need to outlast Alibaba, solve the problems of the future and, independent of Alibaba, use its own profits to help the group grow to the size of the world’s fifth-largest economy by 2036.

During the past year, Alibaba has grown rapidly in southeast Asia and beyond – most recently through the purchase of a controlling stake in the Chinese logistics company Cainiao Network, which Alibaba Group founded four years earlier with eight other Chinese investors.

Alibaba has also made strides to expand its cloud computing market, already popular in China, into Europe through the introduction of “MaxCompute.”

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