Alibaba Cloud deploys $1 billion to boost startups, developers in APAC

Photo courtesy of Alibaba Group

Alibaba Cloud has launched Project AsiaForward with an initial $1 billion funding and resources to cultivate a million-strong digital talent pool, empower 100,000 developers and the growth of 100,000 technology startups in the Asia-Pacific region over the next three years. 

The project forms part of the cloud provider’s strategy to invest in infrastructure, technological innovation and talent development to contribute to local economic growth through digital transformation. 

“Innovative technology is critical to the recovery from COVID-19 while a strong pipeline of talent well versed in digital applications is needed to support the sustainable development of today’s digital economy,” said Jeff Zhang, president of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence.

“We are seeing a strong demand for cloud-native technologies in emerging verticals across the region, from e-commerce and logistics platforms to fintech and online entertainment,” said Zhang.

In the Philippines, Alibaba Cloud will launch its first data centre by the end of this year. This signals its continued support for the digitalisation of local businesses through a variety of products and services including Elastic Compute Service (ECS), database, global network solution, Content Delivery Network (CDN) and storage services. 

This investment is the latest in Alibaba Cloud’s growing commitment in the Philippines, focusing on the banking, fintech, retail, logistics and education sectors, among others. 

In Malaysia, the company will build its first international innovation centre. In collaboration with local partner Handsprofit, Alibaba Cloud is offering a one-stop innovation enablement platform for Malaysian small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), startups and developers. 

Various cloud technology and business leadership trainings will be offered through the platform, as well as the nurturing of an ecosystem for venture capital networking. 

In Indonesia, Alibaba Cloud has officially launched its third data centre, starting to serve customers with offerings across database, security, network, machine learning and data analytics services. The new facility allows Alibaba Cloud to better support local businesses interested in adopting cloud technology and advance Indonesia’s push for a digital society.

Also, Alibaba Cloud’s push for talent development are embedded in Project AsiaForward’s three core programs — DigiTalents Forward which is focused on digital upskilling, AI Forward which is targeting developers, and DigiEntrepreneurs Forward which is aimed at connecting promising business ideas with venture capital and real-life opportunities. 

The company has also kicked off the DigiTalents Forward programme in Singapore with the School of Computer Science and Engineering, and NTU-Alibaba Singapore Joint Research Institute at Nanyang Technological University. The partners are planning to launch a variety of AI courses under NTU’s MiniMasters programme.