13 April 2016

Alibaba Cloud launches Create@Alibaba Cloud startup programme

Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of the Alibaba Group, has launched its first global startup programme, Create@Alibaba Cloud. The initiative was first announced in Singapore, where Alibaba Cloud has international headquarters, and which will act as the regional hub for the programme.

Singapore was chosen as the regional hub for the programme because of the country’s strong links and access to other ASEAN markets, including Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. With its close connectivity and reputation as Asia’s most entrepreneurial economy, startups in the programme can easily build connections in Singapore and catapult themselves into neighbouring markets, the company said.

Source: Alibaba Cloud. Yu introduces Create@Alibaba Cloud.
Source: Alibaba Cloud. Yu introduces Create@Alibaba Cloud.
Create@Alibaba Cloud champions startups and maximises their potential through Alibaba’s comprehensive support network and cloud infrastructure services. Yu Sicheng, Vice President of Alibaba Cloud, said: “Our focus has always been to empower our global customers with our cloud expertise to achieve greater global coverage and expansion into international markets. Through our programme, we hope to make our sophisticated networking solutions and big-data intelligence also available to startups and small enterprises to accelerate their business growth. This is Alibaba Cloud’s first global startup program, expanding from previous initiatives in (mainland) China and Hong Kong, and we’re proud to launch it here in Singapore.”

Programme benefits include zero investment in IT infrastructure, professional cloud architect support, and co-branding with Alibaba Cloud for qualified startups.
Programme benefits include zero investment in IT infrastructure, professional cloud architect support, and co-branding with Alibaba Cloud for qualified startups. One of the major benefits of the programme is up to US$10,000 in funding to cover IT costs. Alibaba Cloud can also help with the legal and compliance challenges of entering the China market.

Yu noted that Alibaba Cloud already has startup programmes as well as incubation centres at the Alibaba campus, and is looking to expand the ecosystem and resources to Singapore and globally. Programme partners currently include the Silicon Valley Association of Chinese Entrepreneurs Inc (SVACE), Hanhai Investment, and the Hong Kong Science Park.

As part of the programme, participants will receive funding for investments into IT infrastructure for the first year, technology training for professionals, tailormade IT solutions designed by Alibaba Cloud’s architects and one-on-one post-sales support.

Create@Alibaba Cloud also empowers startups with better access to overseas markets and potential connections. Programme participants will receive support through Alibaba Cloud’s global start-up partners’ network for funding, working spaces, and incubation, as well as the ability to leverage Alibaba’s resources in entering the China market. Participating startups will also be invited to join Alibaba Cloud’s marketing campaigns, both online and offline.

As part of the programme, a series of competitions will be rolled out in key regions including ASEAN markets, Hong Kong, Korea, the Middle East and Europe. These will identify startups with good business potential. Regional winners from the competitions will have the opportunity to pitch their business ideas and conduct live product demos at the annual Alibaba Computing Conference Hangzhou Summit in October 2016. During the programme rollout, cloud workshops, entrepreneurship talks and other activities will be held in these key regions.

Pang Heng Soon, General Manager of Infocomm Investments (IIPL) said: “We are constantly looking at ways to continue building a robust ecosystem for startups in Singapore through initiatives such as the Create@Alibaba Cloud programme. For startups to succeed they will need both technical knowhow and market insights; through a support programme like Alibaba Cloud, entrepreneurs will gain access to cloud capabilities and insights on cross-border expansion to reach their full potential.”

Pang describes the startup ecosystem in Singapore.
Pang describes the startup ecosystem in Singapore.
Pang said that startups in the software and Internet space in particular have departed in the past decade from the traditional business expansion model of first developing a product and then getting funding. An iterative model of selling a business model, getting the funding and then completing or refining the product is now in place. "They try fast, learn fast, fail fast, and do it again if they fail," he said.

Dr Sun Wenting, Singapore-based CTO of artificial-intelligence based data analytics platform AD+, operates completely on Alibaba Cloud. The startup tried out the services last year and committed to moving fully onto Alibaba Cloud this year, said Dr Sun. The company is also part of the company's startup programme.

Dr Sun explained that her research and development team is located in both Singapore and China. "Alibaba Cloud has cross-border capabilities that can help us collaborate more closely," she said. "We can (also easily) connect with Chinese investors and potential clients."

Dr Sun introduces her company and its flagship AD+ platform, which helps gain sales conversions more easily through the application of artificial intelligence.

A  similar entrepreneurship initiative by Alibaba Cloud in mainland China, established in March 2015, has cooperated with over 40 venture capital and investment funds, supported nearly 10,000 startup projects and  worked closely with over 200 incubators in China. The global initiative is offered "in the same spirit" as the China initiative, but targets local startups, and could be very different in terms of the type of offline events and content, Yu noted.

The regional entrepreneurship support in Singapore dovetails with a recently-launched Singapore data centre and a focus on customer and partner acquisition in this part of the world, Yu added, as Alibaba Cloud moves to replicate its success in China in the rest of the world. "We have a major partnership with a major telco haven't announced yet," he said of partnerships in Singapore. "We're in the process of entering into more partnerships that we're going to announce at the Yunqi Conference in Shenzhen in the next two weeks."


Read the TechTrade Asia blog post about the Singapore government's push to strengthen the core of the infocomm sector

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