Alibaba has launched the Alibaba Damo (Discovery, Adventure, Momentum, Outlook) Academy, a collaborative endeavor to promote technological research and growth. The market cap of Alibaba is almost the same as Amazon, and with this initiative, Alibaba has inched a step ahead. The Alibaba Group will invest $15 billion over the next three years on research and development, promoting cutting-edge research, data intelligence, quantum computing, Internet of Things and human-machine interaction. The major focus would be on network security, visual computing, machine learning, and natural language processing.
The announcement was made at the Alibaba Computing Conference. There will be seven research labs initially, located at Hangzhou, San Mateo, Beijing, Singapore, Moscow, Bellevue and Tel Aviv. Jeff Zhang, the Chief Technological Officer of the Alibaba Group, would be the head of the Damo Academy. The initiating step includes recruiting 100 researchers around the world for creating disruptive technologies that would become the forefront of technological growth and innovation not only for the Alibaba Group and its partners but the society at large. Jack Ma, the Founder and Executive Chairman said at the Conference that the Academy would contribute to the “society and the era” at large.
According to Jack Ma, the talent pool of the company and technological advancements available in China is poised to take over research facilities created by Intel, Microsoft, and IBM in the global research industry. The target for the Alibaba Group is to generate 100 million jobs globally by 2036 and serve 2 billion customers, with the intention to become the fifth largest economy in the world in the next two decades.
The Alibaba Group is into massive investments for their research arm. There was a 24% increase in their research expense, around $2.48 billion the 2017 fiscal year. Around 11% of their total revenue, as visible on the Alibaba Group Annual Report, was spent on payroll and other share-based compensation.
Along with Tencent Holdings and Baidu, the Alibaba Group is driving the growth in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) industry and competing with the US for natural language processing and machine learning segments.