JD.com, one of the largest off- and online retailers in China, is launching a startup accelerator called AI Catapult to develop artificial intelligence and blockchain technology.
At the end of 2017, JD.com partnered with Wal-Mart, IBM, and Tsighua University in a bold move to leverage blockchain tech for food safety by way of adding an immutable layer of traceability. Their pre-existing artificial intelligence program which has already placed them as a world leader in commercial AI applications, according to their press release.
Now, JD.com–with a revenue of close to $50 billion as of autumn 2017–is merging its efforts with blockchain and AI to utilize its insight and customer base which is over 266 million strong in recently-announced accelerator AI Catapult.
The company explains that AI Catapult:
AI Catapult will also help JD’s AI research division find new ways to use AI to improve blockchain technology, with a particular focus in areas including scalability, security, privacy, efficiency and energy consumption that will bring not only business benefits, but positive social impact as well.
The initial roster of disruptive startups to join the accelerator include Bankorous, CanYa, Bluezelle, Nuggets, and Devery. These startups hail from around the globe, from China, Australia, Singapore, and the UK.
The vice president of JD.com’s AI Platform and Research Division is reported saying, ““We are excited to work with some of the world’s most innovative startups to explore ways we can scale these cutting edge technologies for the future of retail and other industries, as well” according to CoinJournal’s report on the new accelerator.
These aren’t the only ways JD is involving itself in blockchain, either.
As CoinDesk points out, the company’s cloud computing service, JD Cloud, has also launched a platform to provide custom blockchain solutions in the spirit of blockchain-as-a-service.
Plus, JD is exploring how blockchain could interact with the global freight and logistics Industry as a new member of the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA).