Alibaba plans to invest more than US$15 billion in research and development over the next three years as part of a new global research program called the Alibaba DAMO Academy.

The DAMO Academy — which stands for the Academy for Discovery, Adventure, Momentum and Outlook — will be led by Alibaba Group’s Chief Technology Officer, Jeff Zhang.

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The first thing the Academy will do is recruiting 100 researchers and open seven research labs in China (Beijing and Hangzhou), the United States (San Mateo and Bellevue), Russia (Moscow), Israel (Tel Aviv) and Singapore.

The labs will focus their attention on areas such as data intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), fintech, quantum computing and human-machine interaction. Within those broad research areas, the researchers will turn their attention to topics such as machine learning, network security, visual computing, natural language processing.

Overseeing the direction of the labs will be an advisory board made up of academics and researchers from Princeton, Harvard, Columbia University, Berkeley, University of Washington and Peking University, Zhejiang University and Beijing Institute of Technology.

The labs will also collaborate with universities, for example the Academy will work with the University of California, Berkeley on areas such as secured real-time computing.

“The Alibaba DAMO Academy will be at the forefront of developing next-generation technology that will spur the growth of Alibaba and our partners. We aim to discover breakthrough technologies that will enable greater efficiency, network security and ecosystem synergy for end-users and businesses everywhere,” said Jeff Zhang, Alibaba CTO.

Alibaba currently has around 25,000 engineers and scientists on its staff. The additional R&D investment is designed to help the business deliver on its goal of serving 2 billion customers and create 100 million job opportunities in 20 years.

“Over the past 18 years, we have developed a robust technology infrastructure that supports the rapid growth of our business. With our global expansion, we have grown and refined our technology manifold. We are now looking for talented and driven researchers to join us in the quest for new disruptive technologies that would advance our everyday lives, benefit small businesses and narrow the technology gap to make our world a more inclusive place,” Zhang said.

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