JD.com launches accelerator for blockchain and AI technology
Chinese online retail giant JD.com has launched a new accelerator, AI Catapult, for the development of artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies.
Part of JD.com’s AI programme, AI Catapult will begin partnering with innovative blockchain startups from March as it looks to help build new businesses and create and test real-world applications of their technologies at scale.
Participating startups will have the opportunity to work with a wide variety of operational teams within JD.
JD.com already develops its own commercial AI applications through its engineers in China and at its Silicon Valley lab. These solutions are deployed in JD’s drones, robotics, automation technology, smart supply chain, marketing and customer service applications.
It also uses blockchain technology in supply chains and for product safety, through a supply chain transparency initiative that enables tracing for products back to their origin. Through AI Catapult, the company hopes to deploy these technologies more widely.
Based in Beijing, AI Catapults’ first roster of companies will include Chinese fintech pioneer Bankorus, Australia’s cryptocurrency leader CanYa, the Bluezelle blockchain-powered database service in Singapore, and London-based Nuggets, the ecommerce payments and ID platform built on blockchain.
“JD is in a unique position to explore the potential of AI and blockchain in global commerce,” said Bowen Zhou, vice president of JD.com’s AI Platform and Research Division. “We are excited to work with some of the world’s most innovative startups to explore ways we can scale these cutting-edge technologies for the future of retail and other industries, as well.”
AI Catapult will also help JD’s AI research division find new ways to use AI to improve blockchain technology, with a particular focus on areas such as scalability, security, privacy, efficiency and energy consumption.
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