- Alibaba Group donates quantum computing equipment to Zhejiang University.
- The news comes after reports that DAMO Academy close its quantum lab.
- The move to half quantum operations appears to have been abrupt because the company was recruiting quantum experts just four months ago.
Alibaba Group’s DAMO Academy, the company’s deep tech research since its inception by former CEO Jack Ma in 2017, has chosen to contribute its quantum computing resources to the academic sphere, donating its laboratory and equipment to Zhejiang University, local Chinese sources are reporting.
Zhejiang University is home to a well-respected quantum information group that investigates several quantum computing approaches and architectures.
The news appears to confirm reports from several sources late last week that indicated Alibaba shut down operations at its Quantum Laboratory, amidst a broader reassessment of its research initiatives. Alibaba halted its cloud computing division’s IP and brought in new leadership, CNBC reported last week.
The move also suggests that Alibaba’s quantum efforts will not be absorbed by other units within the company, but will be completely scrapped.
According to the media outlet, Caixin, the decision aligns with Alibaba’s commitment to academic collaboration, providing Zhejiang University, along with other institutions, access to cutting-edge tools to continue quantum research.
The transition occurs shortly after layoffs were reported at the Quantum Lab, affecting over 30 employees amidst budget and profitability revisions.
The outlet reported that the closure of the lab was unexpected. The DAMO Academy had continued to recruit for quantum computing roles into July, suggesting the abruptness of the decision.
Alibaba’s move reflects a broader trend in the tech industry, particularly in the deep tech industry, where commercial entities often partner with academic institutions to advance scientific research.
According to The Quantum Insider’s China’s Quantum Computing Market brief, Alibaba is a diverse tech conglomerate that has been active in quantum since 2015. The company’s Quantum Lab Academy teaching employees and students about the prospects of quantum computing. Alibaba’s Quantum Laboratory is a full-stack R&D service offering an 11-qubit quantum cloud platform. According to some reports, Alibaba invested about $15 billion into emerging technologies such as quantum.