Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has introduced plans to spend $15 billion in R&D projects. As per a report from Quartz, the cash was announced at the firm's yearly cloud computing conference in Hangzhou. The initiative is part of Alibaba's so-called DAMO Academy (or even Discovery, Adventure, Momentum, and Outlook) and will include the introduction of seven new labs: 2 in China, together with others in Singapore, Moscow, near Seattle, and from Silicon Valley.
The range of research to be conducted in these centers is broad, focusing on both the foundational and disruptive technology, says Alibaba. This will include areas like the web of things and information analysis, as well as artificial intelligence and even quantum computing.
Alibaba CTO Jeff Zhang outlined the project's range on-stage in Hangzhou. The research will be key for Alibaba to achieve its goal of serving two billion customers and generating 100 million projects by 2036.
More importantly, it might help the business move beyond its origins as an e-commerce company. Fellow retailer Amazon switched its own cloud services into an extremely profitable multi-billion-dollar business in just more than ten years, and Alibaba continues to be expressing a desire to do the same. Investment in large info and machine learning can give an advantage over competitors and let it offer off-the-shelf AI services to entice clients.
Presently, Alibaba's cloud company makes just over $250 million a quarter (which is pretty small in comparison to Amazon Web Services, making $4.1 billion at exactly the same amount of time) however the Chinese marketplace is growing quickly -- more than double the rate of the US. Alibaba currently has a bigger market share compared to rivals such as Tencent and China Telecom, and brand new R&D financing should allow it to sharpen that advantage.