China’s Tianjin Forms £11.6bn Fund To Boost Artificial Intelligence Growth

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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The move comes amid a growing ‘arms race’ that has fuelled major AI initiatives from the UK, France and the European Union

Tianjin, a northern Chinese port near Beijing, has said it plans to set up a fund worth 100 billion yuan (£11.6bn) to boost the artificial intelligence (AI) industry.

The move comes amid as competition ramps up for AI leadership, with major initiatives announced by the UK, France and the European Union, each of which are looking to keep talent from being drawn off by the US and China.

China, for its part, is aiming to become a world leader in AI by 2025, challenging the US’ current dominance.

Tianjin’s plan is to focus on areas including intelligent robots, and hardware and software, the official Xinhua news agency said.

artifical intelligence, AIIntelligent manufacturing

A 30bn yuan sub-fund will target intelligent devices and intelligent upgrades for already-established industries.

Sun Wen Kui, vice mayor of Tianjin, said the city would give financial support of up to 30m yuan for each research institution that sets up in Tianjin.

A separate fund worth 10bn yuan is to promote intelligent manufacturing, Xinhua said. No timetable was given.

Last month the European Commission called for a 20 billion euro (£17bn) investment into AI across the EU, saying  it would increase its investment by about 70 percent to 1.5bn euros by 2020, and wants total public and private investment to reach 20bn euros by the end of that year.

European challenge

In March French president Emmanuel Macron announced a major public investment in the area, with a presidential adviser saying AI was in an “arms race”.

“We will do what it takes to move to pole position,” the adviser said.

Ahead of that announcement Samsung and Fujitsu said they would establish substantial AI research centres in France.

The UK government identified AI as a key part of its Industrial Strategy last year, and in January said it would strengthen links with France in the AI sector.

British AI firms include Google-owned DeepMind and Darktrace, which incorporates AI into its cybersecurity offerings.

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