Chengdu making strong push to foster next-gen AI technology

Chengdu, capital city of Southwest China’s Sichuan province, is working to develop a national pilot zone for advancing next-generation artificial intelligence.

The Chengdu municipal government revealed an action plan promoting the development of an AI-centered pilot zone in November.

According to the plan, Chengdu will invest more than 100 billion yuan (€12.76 billion) in over 170 major projects over two years to support the regional AI industry. It will focus on developing a core area, an innovation hub and several industrial parks.

The core zone is the Chengdu Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone, a national-level innovation centre in the city. It is projected to have more than 10 billion yuan (€1.28 billion) in AI-related industrial output value by 2022.

The Tianfu New Area, home to the Chengdu Science City, will be a hub of AI innovation. It is estimated that the scale of its AI industry will surpass 5 billion yuan (€0.64 billion) in 2022.

AI technologies will also be applied in 10 industrial parks including Tianfu Smart Production Industrial Park and Qingbaijiang European Industrial Park to support regional industrial upgrades.

In September, Chinese communication technology giant Huawei agreed to build an AI-based big data centre in the Chengdu Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone. The project will result in an integrated big data processing centre to serve economic development of Chengdu and its neighbouring Chongqing city. There will also be three platforms to support Chengdu’s urban management, AI innovation and digital economy. Huawei’s total investment will be around 10.9 billion yuan (€1.39 billion).

According to local officials, the urban management platform will support smart development in fields such as traffic, security, healthcare, contingency management, education and environmental protection. The innovation-supporting platform will help local research institutes carry out advanced technology development.

Representatives from Huawei say the big data centre will help the company build an industrial chain with products and solutions “developed in Chengdu, manufactured in Chengdu, and applied in Chengdu and beyond”. The big data centre will support Huawei’s research and development while meeting computing and data storage demand of key industries across the city.

The centre will bring Huawei’s advanced technologies in 5G, cloud, AI and computing to serve Chengdu’s new infrastructure projects and smart city construction, the telecoms giant says.

In June, Chinese internet search giant Baidu joined hands with the Chengdu Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone to promote its self-driving taxi service, the Apollo Go Robotaxi, in Chengdu. The movement will support the autonomous driving sector’s development in the city.

Chengdu Supercomputing Centre, in Southwest China, started trial operations in September. Government officials says the supercomputing centre will strongly support AI industry growth in the region.

A representative from the centre says designers had considered using the centre to support local AI development even before its construction started. The centre can meet various AI computing demands and will help to lower developers’ investment and operational costs. In the future, the centre will attract more computing professionals while establishing partnerships with leading universities and institutes.

To build a national pilot zone for next-generation AI, Chengdu will promote cooperation among universities, research institutions and enterprises for industrialisation of research results. The zone is expected to become an important technological engine to drive local growth, making Chengdu and the broader region that encompasses Chengdu and Chongqing an influential innovation hub in China.

The move is expected to create a better development environment for businesses, allowing them to enjoy better infrastructure, data and talent resources, according to local officials.

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