The city of Tianjian, a major port city in Northeastern China, is establishing a RMB100 billion (US$15.72 billion) fund-of-funds to invest in artificial intelligence technologies, the city announced at the World Intelligence Congress on May 16th.
The move comes amid an intense AI race between China and the U.S. The Chinese government says it wants to make AI a new economic driving force by 2020, and become an AI leader with key AI industry valued at more than RMB 1 trillion (US$157 billion) by 2030, according the three-step development plan released by the State Council last year. The fund will also help Tianjin compete against major Chinese technology centers like Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.
Tianjin’s new fund will focus on smart robots, smart hardware and software, smart sensors, virtual reality and augmented reality, as well as Internet-connected cars. About RMB30 billion (US$4.7 billion) will go to a sub-fund that invests in smart manufacturing and AI solutions that transform traditional manufacturing, according to the document released on Tianjin government’s website.
The money will be raised by government-backed Haihe River Fund, as well as financial institutions, and private companies from China and abroad.
The fund is part of Tianjin’s bigger plan for pushing smart manufacturing. The government also plans for a RMB10 billion (US$1.57 billion) special fund to support industrial upgrade. For example, companies can get rewards of up to RMB10 million (US$1.57 million) if they purchase industrial robots. Eligible manufacturers can get subsidies of up to RMB50 million (US$7.86 million) when they purchase advanced manufacturing equipment.
Tianjin reported GDP of RMB1.9 trillion (US$299 billion) in 2017, with a 3.6% year-on-year growth rate. Its GDP ranked sixth across cities in China, following Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Chongqing.
To compete with China’s other top first-tier cities for talents, Tianjin will also try to attract top talents. For top scientists such as Nobel Price winners, Tianjin will award as much as RMB10 million (US$1.57 million). For top foreign talents, the government will subsidize education fees for their children, as well as providing insurance.