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Project AsiaForward aims to cultivate a million-strong digital talent pool, empower 100,000 developers, and power the growth of 100,000 technology startups in APAC over the next three years.

On 8 June (Tuesday), Alibaba Cloud announced the launch of Project AsiaForward—an investment project targeted to support infrastructure, technological innovation and talent development in Asia Pacific (APAC). As it stands, the project is packed with funding and resources worth of an initial US$1bn.

Project AsiaForward aims to cultivate a million-strong digital talent pool, empower 100,000 developers and the growth of 100,000 technology startups in APAC over the next three years. Chief among these are companies in Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

With regard to Singapore, the project stands to benefit individuals through digital upskilling programmes at higher-education institutes.

How Project AsiaForward will contribute to Southeast Asia

For Singapore, there are three core upskilling programmes as part of Project AsiaForward:

  • DigiTalents Forward, which focuses on digital upskilling;
  • AI Forward, which targets developers;
  • DigiEntrepreneurs Forward, which aims to connect promising business ideas with venture capital and real-life opportunities.

According to Alibaba, the company has kicked off the DigiTalents Forward programme in the School of Computer Science and Engineering (SCSE), and NTU-Alibaba Singapore Joint Research Institute (JRI) at Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

These parties are also targeting to launch a variety of AI courses under NTU’s MiniMasters programme.

In Malaysia, Alibaba Cloud, in collaboration with local partner Handsprofit, is said to build its first international innovation centre.

This will offer a one-stop innovation enablement software for Malaysian small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), startups and developers looking towards the future of digitalisation.

In addition, training in three areas will be provided:

  • Various cloud technology;
  • Business leadership;
  • Venture capital networking

In Indonesia, on the other hand, Alibaba Cloud has launched a third data centre. This will allow companies to offer customers with services across database, security, network, machine learning and data analytics.

Local businesses, looking to adopt cloud technology and digital strategies, also stand to benefit from this establishment, according to Alibaba Cloud.

As for the Philippines, the cloud service provider is set 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 the press release, this investment is the latest in Alibaba Cloud’s growing commitment in the country, focusing on the banking, fintech, retail, logistics and education sectors, among others.

Jeff Zhang, President of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence, said: “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.

“We are 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.”

Zhang thus affirms Alibaba Cloud’s belief to stay committed to bettering the region’s cloud ecosystem, and enhancing its digital infrastructure.

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