Alibaba to invest US$15b in R&D over next 3 years

ALIBABA Group said it will strengthen its technology research input, aiming to invest more than US$15 billion in research and development over the next three years.

The initial investment would focus on the setting up of seven research labs including two in China, two in the United States, plus one each in Russia, Israel, and Singapore, the company said at its annual Computing Conference in Hangzhou yesterday.

The e-commerce giant’s global research program, called the Alibaba DAMO Academy (Academy for Discovery, Adventure, Momentum and Outlook), is expected to increase its technological collaborations worldwide in order to advance the development of cutting-edge technology.

Alibaba chairman Jack Ma said its ultimate aim is to make society more inclusive and more sustainable, and to create 100 million job opportunities for the world as well as connect businesses with consumers around the globe.

“The DAMO Academy strives to become a perfect integration of business and technology, real market application and ground level research work,” he added.

The DAMO Academy’s focus, he said, will be on “solving problems with fun and profit.”

“Only by doing so will a research institute solve problems. For any organization, if they can’t solve problems in society, they won’t last long,” Ma said.

It is also looking to recruit 100 talented researchers from around the world.

“We aim to discover breakthrough technologies that will enable greater efficiency, network security and ecosystem synergy for consumers and businesses everywhere,” Alibaba Group’s Chief Technology Officer Jeff Zhang said in a statement yesterday.

Zhang added the company is now looking for researchers and collaborators to join the quest for new disruptive technologies that would advance our daily lives, benefit small businesses and narrow the technology gap.

Alibaba’s financial affiliate Ant Financial also launched an independent personal ID verifying platform ZOLOZ yesterday to offer its biometric identification technology for more merchants and businesses.

Chen Jidong, ZOLOS’s China general manager, said Alipay has been using facial, voice and fingerprint recognition to help personal information identification and has served over 200 million Alipay users.

Blockchain, artificial intelligence, security, Internet of Things and cloud computing would be the basic technology capabilities.