Alibaba announced the launch of two entrepreneurial funds in Taiwan and Hong Kong today, tapping into the burgeoning startup communities on China’s fringe.
The Taiwan fund is worth NT$10 billion ($306 million USD), while the Hong Kong fund is valued at HK$1 billion ($130 million USD).
Investments will be in line with Alibaba’s existing ecosystem including e-commerce, logistics, mobile, cloud computing and finance, according to a release from Alibaba.
“We are passionate about fostering entrepreneurial spirit and hope the resources provided by the Fund will help unleash potential for innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Joseph Tsai, executive vice chairman of Alibaba Group.
Alibaba will employ independent fund management firms to initiate the program. Gobi Partners, a 10-year-old VC firm with offices across Asia, was the sole partner announced today, though further firms will be revealed.
Alibaba has been rapidly investing in early stage startups to fuel growth as they fight to remain agile despite their size. In an interview with Barack Obama this week, Alibaba executive chairman Jack Ma said that “innovation is always outside” of large companies.
The e-commerce giant says the investments will not be specific to companies of any particular size, though it’s worth noting that Gobi Partners has previously specialized in early stage investments.
The new funds will be a not-for-profit initiative according to Alibaba. Cindy Chow, the former senior director of international finance at Alibaba will serve as the executive director of the Hong Kong fund, while Andrew Lee, former chief financial officer of EnTie Bank, will serve as executive director of the Taiwan Fund.