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Ant Group inks strategic partnership with Shanghai to help the city’s AI ambitions

In Business
February 01, 2024

Ant Group and the Shanghai municipal government have struck a partnership that would see the two parties deepen their collaboration in fields such as blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI).

Under the partnership, Ant Group, the Alibaba Group Holding fintech affiliate, will “actively participate in building [an] artificial intelligence industry ecosystem and blockchain innovation platform in Shanghai”, according to a statement published on Wednesday. Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.

The partnership signing ceremony was attended by Shanghai Mayor Gong Zheng and Eric Jing Xiandong, chairman and chief executive at Ant.

The deal is the latest example of a Big Tech firm in China supporting the state’s technology priorities. Ant Group, which called off a mega initial public offering in Shanghai and Hong Kong in late 2020, has undergone a reorganisation and ownership change to satisfy regulatory demands.

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Jing lauded Shanghai for being an open, creative city that provides companies with a “broad stage and space for development”.

Alipay, the group’s mobile payment service operator, has established its global headquarters in Shanghai. Ant Group will increase its R&D investment with a view to “helping with the city’s economic and societal growth and its enterprises’ participation in global trade”, according to Jing.

Ant Group’s tie-up with China’s finance hub comes at a time when the city is looking to establish “five centres” for economy, finance, trade, shipping and scientific and technological innovation.

The municipality expects to leverage such partnerships to deepen its collaboration with corporate entities across a wide field, according to Mayor Gong, who added that Shanghai would endeavour to foster an environment that is conducive to businesses so they can grow their presence in the city.

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Separately, other Alibaba businesses are beefing up their investments in the city.

The Damo Academy, Alibaba’s in-house research facility, set up a new company in Shanghai on Tuesday, with 10 million yuan (US$1.4 million) in registered capital, according to records available on local business registry data service Qichacha.

The new firm, called Damo Academy (Shanghai) Technology Co, has a business scope that includes the design of integrated circuits, as well as AI software and algorithm development.

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