Alibaba, China’s largest e-commerce company, will open a development center in Israel as part of a $ 15 billion program to establish research and development centers in several countries around the world. The company’s plan reflects its desire to compete with world leaders in the field of online commerce, logistics, and cloud technology.
The research arm of Alibaba, the Damo Academy, will set up labs across Israel, China, the US, Russia and Singapore. In addition, the company will employ 100 other researchers in the field of artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and Fintec, the company said in a statement.
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“Alibaba’s DAMO Academy will stand at the forefront of the development of the generation technology and will support the growth of Alibaba and its partners,” said Jeff Chang, vice president of technology at the company.
In the past year, Alibaba has expanded quickly and is now directly competing with Amazon in the e-commerce field, as well as in companies dealing in the global clearing, cloud computing, and logistics. Over the past year, the Alibaba share in New York has jumped more than 70 percent, and the company’s market value is $460 billion – with a market value of $476 billion for rival Amazon.
Alibaba operates a research center in California, and last year it opened information centers in Europe, the US, the Middle East, Australia, Japan, India, and Indonesia in an effort to expand its cloud activity.
The investment arm of Alibaba has been active in Israel since 2014 and has invested in a number of start-ups in the field of reality, such as Infinity AR and Lomus, communications (visual-hand and tango), search engines (Twigel) and the theta-ray. In addition, it is invested in Jerusalem Venture Capital (JVP).
China’s interest in Israel
In Israel, it is estimated that 10-20% of the capital of Israeli high-tech comes from China. Almost all of the Israeli funds that have raised capital in recent years have included Chinese, institutional, strategic and government entities, including Pitango, Carmel, JVP, Vintage and Canaan Israel.
China’s growing interest in Israel stems mainly from China’s desire to change its economic model and move from a country of heavy, polluting industry to a modern, technology-driven industry. The heavy pollution of air and food in China and the great influence of the social networks in Israel (Alibaba’s shopping service is now the largest customer of Israel Post) create a huge interest in the Internet, mobile, agriculture, water and advanced manufacturing.
Israel, as a country associated with innovation and advanced technologies, including agriculture and water, meets the needs of China.
Alibaba already has 25,000 engineers and scientists on staff and has spent an average $3 billion a year on research, the company said in the statement.