In line with the nation’s plans to build a 1 trillion yuan AI industry by 2030, the municipal government of Shanghai had last year unveiled measures to expand the industry scale to more than 100 billion yuan by 2020.
A batch of global companies including Microsoft, Amazon, Alibaba, and Baidu have announced that they would establish their AI-related innovative centers and research institutes in Shanghai.
Amazon Web Services (AWS), a secure cloud services platform within Amazon.com, has also decided to establish the first Asia-Pacific AWS AI research institute in Shanghai.
According to Swami Sivasubramanian, vice president of AWS, the institute will conduct multi-language natural language processing research centered on Mandarin Chinese and provide an open-source, deep-learning ecosystem to help Chinese customers launch AI and machine learning applications, Xinhua reported.
The planned Microsoft Research Asia-Shanghai and the Microsoft-INESA AI Innovation Center in Shanghai also hope to bring world-class AI research capabilities to the city.
In addition, Baidu’s Shanghai innovation center is looking to develop more than 110 AI projects.
China’s largest voice recognition company iFlytek had in September inked a strategic cooperation agreement with the municipal government to launch a series of demonstrative and industrial projects related to education, medical services, as well as smart city and automotive products.
“Being a modern cosmopolis, Shanghai has an advantage in gathering various resources and attracting international talents, which makes itself an ideal platform for companies seeking better development,” said Ren Pingping, marketing director of iFlytek.
Shanghai’s wealth of big data resources, wide application of smart technologies, sufficient industries, and affluent research talents have laid a solid foundation for developing the AI industry, said Chen Mingbo, director of the Shanghai Commission of Economy and Information Technology, at a press conference on promoting AI industry last year.
The current number of AI companies in Shanghai ranks the fourth-most in the world and the second-most in China after Beijing, according to the China AI Development Report 2018 which was published by Tsinghua University.
The enterprises have an average history of 4.9 years, lower than the national average of 5.5 years, which means these startup enterprises are young and energetic, added the report.
Among the more than 50,000 AI technical professionals working across China, one-third of them are working in Shanghai, only after Beijing, as stated in a report by professional networking website LinkedIn.
According to the municipal government’s guideline regarding next-generation AI development, the government has called on industry players to form an eco-system for AI development, improve the business environment for innovation and application, and attract more AI enterprises and talents to the city, said Ren.
Other efforts to boost the AI industry include setting up fund to aid the sector, building five AI innovative application demonstration areas and launching more than 100 application demonstration projects.