SINGAPORE: Chinese Internet behemoth Alibaba will open a research lab here in Singapore, as part of its new global research programme called the Alibaba Discovery, Adventure, Momentum and Outlook (DAMO) Academy.
Singapore is one of seven locations announced on Wednesday (Oct 11). The other cities are Moscow, Tel Aviv, Beijing and Hangzhou, as well as San Mateo and Bellevue in the United States.
In response to Channel NewsAsia’s queries on the choice of Singapore, Alibaba cited the country’s strategic location, as well as status as a global trade and finance centre.
“It offers multiple business scenarios for technology application, and has a relatively higher demand for new technologies such as natural language processing,” said the spokesperson.
Alibaba is aiming to open the Singapore lab in early 2018.
For other locations, the company said it considered factors such as the presence of local universities, research institutes and talent, as well as the environment for technological innovation.
INVESTMENT IN R&D SET TO BE MORE THAN US$15B
The new academy, which will be headed by Alibaba Group’s chief technology officer Jeff Zhang, is looking to "increase technological collaboration worldwide, advance the development of cutting-edge technology and strive to make the world more inclusive by narrowing the technology gap", Alibaba said in a statement.
With its latest move, the tech giant is looking to invest more than US$15 billion (S$20 billion) in research and development over the next three years.
It is also on the lookout to hire 100 researchers from around the world, the statement added.
The new research labs will focus on foundational and disruptive technology research, including data intelligence, Internet of Things, fintech, quantum computing and human-machine interaction. In particular, attention will be on topics such as machine learning, network security, visual computing and natural language processing.
The labs will also collaborate with experts in the tech industry and educational institutions to explore solutions to improve the lives of end-users and boost the efficiency and security of companies, Alibaba said.
For instance, the academy will partner with the University of California at Berkeley on areas such as secured real-time computing.
The academy has also named a 10-member advisory board, which include professors from top universities in China and the United States.
“The Alibaba DAMO Academy will be at the forefront of developing next-generation technology that will spur the growth of Alibaba and our partners,” said Mr Zhang.
“We aim to discover breakthrough technologies that will enable greater efficiency, network security and ecosystem synergy for end-users and businesses everywhere.”