Alibaba's $15B R&D Investment Includes AI, IoT

Alibaba will invest $15 billion over the next three years in a variety of research and development projects.

Scott Ferguson, Managing Editor, Light Reading

October 12, 2017

3 Min Read
Alibaba's $15B R&D Investment Includes AI, IoT

Alibaba, the parent company of public cloud provider Alibaba Cloud, is looking to expand its global footprint with a three-year, $15 billion research and development program that will investment in an array of technologies, including artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things.

The company is calling the R&D program, announced Wednesday, Alibaba DAMO Academy, which stands for "Academy for Discovery, Adventure, Momentum and Outlook."

Alibaba CTO Jeff Zhang will oversee the effort.

In addition to IoT and AI, the company plans to invest in other cutting-edge technologies, including data intelligence, fintech, quantum computing, machine learning, natural language processing and network computing.

Figure 1: Alibaba looks to put the pieces together. (Source: Qimono via Pixabay) Alibaba looks to put the pieces together.
(Source: Qimono via Pixabay)

As a way for Alibaba to expand in markets outside China, the company plans to establish research labs in the US, Russia, Israel and Singapore. In the US, for example, Alibaba plans to partner with the University of California Berkley's RISE Lab, which is developing new approaches to security.

"With our global expansion, we have grown and refined our technology manifold," Zhang noted in the October 11 announcement. "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 announcement comes a day after Dell Technologies announced a $1 billion investment in IoT, including a new company-wide strategy. (See Dell Putting Its Company Muscle Behind New IoT Strategy.)

Other tech companies, including Salesforce and Microsoft, have also signaled that they plan to invest heavily in these technologies over the next several years. (See Microsoft's Quantum Computing Efforts Come into Focus.)

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Alibaba, both its online retail group and its cloud division, has been looking to expand over the last year. On the cloud side, Alibaba Cloud is planning to open several data centers outside China, including facilities in Malaysia and Indonesia.

The cloud division has also recently passed 1 million paying customers. (See Alibaba Cloud Snags 1M Paying Customers.)

Those efforts have helped Alibaba Cloud move up the ranks of global infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) providers. (See Alibaba Cloud Is Surprise Winner in IaaS Sweepstakes.)

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— Scott Ferguson, Editor, Enterprise Cloud News. Follow him on Twitter @sferguson_LR.

About the Author(s)

Scott Ferguson

Managing Editor, Light Reading

Prior to joining Enterprise Cloud News, he was director of audience development for InformationWeek, where he oversaw the publications' newsletters, editorial content, email and content marketing initiatives. Before that, he served as editor-in-chief of eWEEK, overseeing both the website and the print edition of the magazine. For more than a decade, Scott has covered the IT enterprise industry with a focus on cloud computing, datacenter technologies, virtualization, IoT and microprocessors, as well as PCs and mobile. Before covering tech, he was a staff writer at the Asbury Park Press and the Herald News, both located in New Jersey. Scott has degrees in journalism and history from William Paterson University, and is based in Greater New York.

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