Alibaba Cloud, the digital technology and intelligence backbone of Alibaba Group, today launched Project AsiaForward with an initial USD1 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 Asia Pacific (APAC) over the next three years. Unveiled during the Alibaba Cloud Summit 2021, 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 as the trusted cloud leader in APAC.
“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. 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 Jeff Zhang, President of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence. “As the leading cloud service provider and trusted partner in APAC, we are committed to bettering the region’s cloud ecosystem and enhancing its digital infrastructure. Our focus on innovation and data center investments, as well as talent development is in anticipation of a digital-first future.”
In the Philippines, the company is to launch its first data center by the end of this year, signaling its continued support for the digitalization 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 country, focusing on the banking, FinTech, retail, logistics and education sectors, among others.
In Malaysia, Alibaba Cloud is to build its first international innovation center. In collaboration with local partner Handsprofit, the company is offering a one-stop innovation enablement platform for Malaysian small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), startups and developers looking to push the technological frontier. 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 the third data center, starting to serve customers with offerings across database, security, network, machine learning and data analytics services. The additional center allows Alibaba Cloud to better support local businesses interested in adopting cloud technology and advance Indonesia’s push for a digital society. Alibaba Cloud currently operates 75 availability zones in 24 regions around the world.
Alibaba Cloud’s talent development ambitions are embedded in Project AsiaForward’s three core programs – DigiTalents Forward, focused on digital upskilling, AI Forward, targeting developers and DigiEntrepreneurs Forward, 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 (SCSE), and NTU-Alibaba Singapore Joint Research Institute (JRI) at Nanyang Technological University. The parties are planning to launch a variety of AI courses under NTU’s MiniMasters programme.
“Our strategic roadmap for APAC includes targeted investments to facilitate the digital transformation of local businesses. We see these investments as all the more timely given the impact of the pandemic and the sharp rise in demand for digital business tools. Equally important is our focus on talent development and nurturing a digitally-competent workforce, which we see as a key challenge for many businesses to overcome going forward,” said Selina Yuan, General Manager of International Business Unit, Alibaba Cloud Intelligence.
During the summit, Alibaba Cloud also launched a range of products and solutions as part of its continued effort to support the digital transformation of industries. Among those launched were new live streaming solutions, IT infrastructure products and cloud-native data management services.