Alibaba launches research arm for AI, quantum computing, and other emerging tech

October 11, 2017

Alibaba Group announced today that it’s launching a new research organization aimed at tackling emerging technologies like machine learning, network security, the internet of things, and quantum computing.

It’s called the Academy for Discovery, Adventure, Momentum and Outlook (referred to as the DAMO Academy for short), and Alibaba plans to recruit 100 researchers to staff labs around the globe. The company plans to open two labs in China, both in the tech giant’s home city of Hangzhou as well as Beijing. In addition, the Chinese ecommerce and technology titan will open labs in San Mateo, California; Seattle, Washington; Moscow, Russia; Tel Aviv, Israel; and Singapore.

Over the next three years, the company plans to spend $15 billion on research and development, a significant increase over its current rate of spending. Jeff Zhang, the CTO of Alibaba Group, will lead the academy.

This is a move that puts Alibaba in line with a number of other major tech organizations, including Microsoft, Google, Facebook, IBM, and Snap. Like those other organizations, Alibaba plans to take an open approach with the work that it’s doing, and will likely contribute information to the public through research papers, open source projects and other collaborations.

Performing research will help Alibaba stay on top of the latest technology developments, something that will be important as the company competes to be a global power in the industry.

Alibaba isn’t going it alone, either. The company has built an advisory board for the academy includes professors from a number of leading research institutions both in China and the U.S. In addition, the company plans to work with local partners to drive its research forward. For example, Alibaba will work with the University of California, Berkeley’s Real-Time Intelligent Secure Execution lab (RISELab) on its work into secure computing.


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