The southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu is looking to drive innovation in artificial intelligence (AI) by offering subsidies of up to RMB 3 million (around $430,000) to startups in the city.

Chengdu hopes to establish itself as an AI-powered innovation center, covering a variety of applications including 5G, ultra high-definition video streaming, and virtual reality. The city government is offering subsidies of RMB 3 million to companies that innovate in a number of AI fields, including medical and military technologies, according to a statement released on Feb. 15 (in Chinese).

The capital city of Sichuan province is facing increased pressure to acquire talent amid an AI race involving a slew of Chinese cities. Tianjin, another second-tier city in northern China, announced in May 2018 plans for a RMB 100 billion fund for AI development, including robotics and autonomous vehicles.

Chengdu also aims to boost AI development by encouraging collaboration between companies that are leaders in their fields and universities by providing sponsorships of up to RMB 10 million to each project. Prior to this, in a 2019 AI rollout plan covering the next three years, Chengdu authorities vowed to create an industry worth over RMB 50 billion by 2022 (in Chinese).

The AI race between China and the US is escalating, as both sides have dedicated sizable resources to support the development of their respective AI industries. Following China’s plan to become a world leader in artificial intelligence by 2030, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order earlier this month, calling for investment in developing the country’s AI capabilities to maintain its military and economic dominance.

Jill Shen

Jill Shen is Shanghai-based technology reporter. She covers Chinese mobility, autonomous vehicles, and electric cars. Connect with her via e-mail: or Twitter: @yushan_shen

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