Kai-Fu Lee leads Beijing’s new AI research center

Beijing city officials yesterday launched a new international artificial intelligence research center in Beijing. The center will be led by Kai-Fu Lee, CEO of Sinovation Ventures, who has publicly endorsing China’s potential in AI growth.

With guidance from Beijing city authorities, the research center will first establish three innovation centers, focusing on basic AI research, smart societal innovation, and AI patent innovation. The center will also build an AI computing and data application platform in collaboration with Face++ (旷视科技), SenseTime (商汤科技), and Ksyun (金山云).

As the first dean of the research center, Kai-Fu Lee stressed the importance of nurturing more AI talent. “AI development doesn’t lie on academic theses,” said Lee at the launch event (in Chinese) in Beijing, adding that it’s important to push forward more cooperations between the industry and the academia.

He also said that the US is the front-runner in techniques but China may very much outrun the former by leveraging its great pool of talent and with governmental policy supports. The scale of data is another factor Lee values. “Data is the booster for AI development,” he told local media. “More data can lead to better products, more users, and thus more benefits.”

It doesn’t come as a surprise that the government is pushing the AI development in Beijing. As of September 2017, Beijing has seen nearly 400 AI companies. 42.9% of all Chinese AI startups are based in Zhongguancun, Beijing.