Alibaba, SenseTime and HKSTP team up to enhance AI in Hong Kong

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

Alibaba, SenseTime and HKSTP team up to enhance AI in Hong Kong
Alibaba Group, SenseTime and Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks collaborate to launch The HKAI Lab.

A not-for-profit initiative, The HKAI Lab, plans to progress artificial intelligence (AI) technology through innovative advancements, knowledge and expertise.

“Alibaba sees AI as a fundamental technology that will make a difference to society,”​ unveiled Joe Tsai, Executive Vice Chairman of Alibaba Group.

Artificial Intelligence laboratory

Together, the trio’s aim is to inspire and encourage startups to commercialise their new inventions and deliver them to the wider environment. The HKAI Lab also hopes to encourage new ideas, information-gathering and ideas-sharing between entrepreneurs, academics and scientists in the AI arena.   

Commenting on its partnership with SenseTime and HKSTP to enhance Hong Kong’s AI capabilities and raise its technology profile in the region, Tsai added: “We envision the Hong Kong AI Lab to be an open platform where researchers, start-ups and industry participants can collaborate and build a culture of innovation.”

Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund, which has been set up by Alibaba to help young entrepreneurs, and SenseTime will support the Lab’s operations by providing funding.

On 21st May 2018, the Lab launched its first initiative, a six-month accelerator programme. After teaming up with Alibaba Cloud and HKSTP, the programme will offer funding, AI technologies, network and co-working space. These will be available to those AI enthusiasts looking to embark on a startup business in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong industry development

The overall plan is to build a local community in Hong Kong that breeds startups in AI and data science and encourage growing talent.  

“The Lab will serve as a platform to bridge the academia and the industry, apply AI technologies to traditional industries, and promote broader collaboration between Hong Kong and the mainland,”​ noted Professor Xiaoou Tang, Founder of SenseTime.

“AI is a major technology focus for HKSTP. At Science Park, there are multiple AI R&D companies specialising in smart security, biotech, chatbots, fintech, smart logistics etc,”​ revealed Fanny Law, Chairperson of HKSTP.

Sharing the ultimate goal for the joint initiative, Law noted: “The collaboration builds on the respective strengths of Alibaba, SenseTime and HKSTP, and also serves as a showcase of the partnership among the industry, academia, research and public bodies to drive innovation and technology.”

Collaboration launch

The programme will launch in September 2018 and will offer two intakes per year. These startup applicants will receive funding and resources. Each class will consist of ten successful candidates. 

SenseTime, an AI unicorn focused on computer vision and deep learning technologies, will provide a deep learning platform and AI solutions to prospective startups.

These startups will also gain access to cloud computing services, machine learning platform, and IT support including GPU-equipped high-performance computer resources from Alibaba Cloud.

Alibaba DAMO Academy, a global research programme created by Alibaba Group, will also make its latest developments available. In addition, these candidates will receive advice from The Lab’s advisory board, consisting of leading AI scientists, entrepreneurs and academics.

HKSTP Incu-Tech programme will also offer working space. The programme, which will start accepting applications in mid-June 2018, will also give startups free working space.

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