Alibaba Cloud is putting in an initial $1 billion funding and resources to launch Project AsiaForward with the goal of developing a million-strong digital talent pool, empower 100,000 developers and help grow 100,000 technology start-ups in APAC over the next three years.
Unveiled during the 2021 Alibaba Cloud Summit held earlier this week, the project forms part of the cloud provider’s strategy to invest in infrastructure, technological innovation and talent development to help companies in the region undertake 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’re 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. Our focus on innovation and data centre investments, as well as talent development is in anticipation of a digital-first future.”
Key country announcements across APAC
- In the Philippines, the company is to launch its first data centre by the end of this year, signalling 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.
According to Alibaba Cloud, the investment underscores the company’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 centre. In collaboration with local partner Handsprofit, the company is offering a one-stop innovation enablement platform for Malaysian SMEs, start-ups 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 centre, with offerings across database, security, network, machine learning and data analytics services. The additional data centre facility 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 2 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,” 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 livestreaming solutions, IT infrastructure products and cloud native data management services.