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Shanghai’s AI sector set to flourish

SHANGHAI’S artificial intelligence industry revenue will hit 100 billion yuan (US$15.2 billion) by 2020, and likely become the city’s new growth engine, top government officials said yesterday.

It will be a big market because AI is set to integrate with many sectors, including finance, transport, agriculture, healthcare and medical and automotive industries.

Shanghai plans to incubate AI “unicorns,” which are private firms with market value of over US$1 billion each, Chen Mingbo, chairman of the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Economy and Information Technology, said.

The city will build six industrial zones focusing on AI applications, establish a government-backed fund and open up data from government and telecommunications carriers. By 2020, Shanghai will be home to 10 global AI giants, according to a new government AI blueprint released yesterday.

“Shanghai doesn’t have BAT (Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent) now but I am confident we will own world-class AI unicorns in the future,” Chen said during a city government-held conference.

Open data, high-end talent and eco-systems covering finance and information infrastructure are Shanghai’s unique advantages, Chen added.

So far, Shanghai has opened up 17,000 categories of government data containing 260,000 projects, covering e-government and telecom data — more than other Chinese cities have released.

Shanghai firms have invested heavily in intelligent connection, robotics, smart devices and industrial-use sensors based on advanced smart manufacture and chip industries.

Meanwhile, Shanghai is drafting plans to attract overseas AI giants to set up facilities in the city as AI is a “globalization industry,” Chen added.

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