Shanghai aiming to be China's AI hub

Visitors looking at a robot at the China International Robot Show in Shanghai in July. The city's plan to become an artificial intelligence hub outlines 21 measures to boost the industry.
Visitors looking at a robot at the China International Robot Show in Shanghai in July. The city's plan to become an artificial intelligence hub outlines 21 measures to boost the industry.PHOTO: REUTERS

City launches plans to expand industry to more than $20.5b by 2020

SHANGHAI • Shanghai is looking to become China's hot spot for artificial intelligence (AI) and wants to expand the scale of the industry in the city to more than 100 billion yuan (S$20.5 billion) by 2020, according to a new municipal plan.

The plan, published on the municipal government website on Tuesday, outlines 21 measures to boost the industry, including the creation of a world-class industry cluster, nurturing 10 AI innovative enterprises with substantial influence, building six innovative application demonstration areas and launching more than 100 application demonstration projects.

"Shanghai's rich big-data resources, wide application of smart technologies and sufficient industries, as well as its affluent research talents, have laid a solid foundation for the development of the AI industry," said Mr Chen Mingbo, director of the Shanghai Commission of Economy and Information Technology.

The fast-growing AI industry is regarded as a new growth engine for Shanghai, a city with special advantages in big database, industrial foundation and sufficient talents from universities and institutions, according to Mr Chen.

The city's ambition would fit nicely in a nationwide plan called Made in China 2025 unveiled by the central government two years ago.

Under the plan, Beijing has designs to dominate cutting-edge technologies like advanced microchips, AI and electric cars, among many others, in a decade.

Although China's three Internet giants - Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent - are not based in Shanghai, the city could become the birthplace of AI unicorn companies, which are defined as privately held start-ups with a valuation of US$1 billion (S$1.36 billion) or more, said Mr Chen.

HUGE POTENTIAL

Shanghai's rich big-data resources, wide application of smart technologies, sufficient industries, as well as its affluent research talents have laid a solid foundation for the development of the AI industry.

MR CHEN MINGBO, director of the Shanghai Commission of Economy and Information Technology.

To achieve this, Shanghai should deepen the integration of AI and related industries, including high-end equipment, integrated circuits, biomedical and automotives, to establish a set of innovation centres for intelligent manufacturing and industrial Internet, said Mr Chen.

In addition, AI industrial clusters will be built across the city with different focuses such as intelligent driving, intelligent robots, intelligent software and hardware.

Policies to attract better talent from both home and abroad will be devised, and a strategic advisory committee for experts will be established, he added.

"Shanghai is currently building an AI development alliance, and nearly 300 major enterprises, and investment and financing institutions, as well as research institutions, have been tapped.

"We will work on attracting global AI enterprises to locate their regional headquarters and innovation centres in Shanghai," Mr Chen said.

CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 16, 2017, with the headline 'Shanghai aiming to be China's AI hub'. Print Edition | Subscribe