Alibaba sets up global research academy

13 Oct 2017

Alibaba Group has established a global research academy which aims to increase collaboration on cutting-edge technology development.

Through the academy the company expects to invest more than $15 billion in R&D over the next three years.

The new Alibaba DAMO Academy -- the Academy for Discovery, Adventure, Momentum and Outlook -- will oversee the development of R&D labs worldwide to seek to recruit talented scientists and researchers to join the program. It will be led by Alibaba Group CTO Jeff Zhang.

"Over the past 18 years of establishment, we have gained robust growth in our business, profit and have accumulated lots of data. Now is the right time to set up our own research academy," said Jack Ma, executive president of Alibaba Group at the company's Computing Conference 2017 in Hangzhou.

He added, "Our academy is not just for making profit or for fun. We aim to focus on research for solving society and people' problems. We will learn from IBM, Intel and Microsoft research labs, and target to surpass them."

Initially the academy will focus on opening research labs in China - in Beijing and Hangzhou - as well as two in the US and one each in Russia, Israel and Singapore.

The seven labs will focus on research into disruptive technologies including data intelligence, the internet of things, fintech, quantum computing and human-machine interaction.

Areas of focus within these broad domains will include machine learning, network security, visual computing and natural language processing (NLP).

The academy will also seek to recruit 100 talented researchers from around the world to assist with the research efforts, and form partnerships with luminaries in the technology sector and educational institutions.

“The Alibaba DAMO Academy will be at the forefront of developing next-generation technology that will spur the growth of Alibaba and our partners. We aim to discover breakthrough technologies that will enable greater efficiency, network security and ecosystem synergy for end-users and businesses everywhere,” Alibaba Group’s Zhang 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 company also plans to use the research lab to help fulfill its ambition of serving 2 billion customers and creating 100 million job opportunities in 20 years.

The research academy will include advisers like educators and researchers from universities globally who will provide guidance and advice on key research areas.

First published in Computerworld Hong Kong

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