On Thursday 1 August 2019, the Ministry of Science and Technology issued the Work Guidelines for the Construction of New Generation Artificial Intelligence Open Innovation Platforms (Guo Ke Fa Gao  No. 265). New Generation AI Open Innovation Platforms focus on key areas and segments of artificial intelligence, and act as effective magnets and clusters for AI-related technologies resources, industrial chain resources, and financing resources; they aim to contribute to more sustained R&D activities and to a wider transfer, dissemination and commercialisation of AI-related scientific achievements across all sectors of the society, including talents, teams, micro-, small and medium sized enterprises.
The work guidelines aim to regulate and guide the definition, principles and processes for their construction and operations, basic conditions and major tasks of New Generation AI Open Innovation Platforms. Specifically, the principles for their construction must be:
- Application-driven: research on basic theories, key core technologies, hardware, software and products must be done in areas where there is major demand for application;
- Enterprise-led: enterprises are encouraged to establish open-source and collaborative platforms, sharing resources with the wider society. Leading enterprises will have the key guiding role and will assist and support the growth of micro-, small and medium sized enterprises;
- Market-oriented: platforms should be operated according to market mechanisms. Host enterprises must provide funding as well as other support through technology licensing, transfer, and compensation;
- Integration and coordination: all actors should actively participate in OI platforms, Including local governments, industry actors, research structures and universities.
New Generation AI Open Innovation Platforms must be established by a leading enterprise within a specific AI area or segment, and which must provide necessary funding and support in terms of technology, infrastructure, talents, and projects. Joint participation of and support from research structures and universities is encouraged. They should be dedicated and fully committed to address AI technology and application demands in one of the areas of the State Council’s Plan for the Development of New Generation Artificial Intelligence (Guo Fa  No. 35).
The work guidelines also indicate four main tasks that New Generation AI Open Innovation Platforms must dedicate to:
- Launch of technology innovation in the corresponding area/segment: i.e. bring together the strengths of competitive enterprises, research structures and universities to launch joint research on AI basic theories, model methods, basic software and hardware;
- Promotion of technology transfer, conversion, and application: i.e. explore mechanisms for more effective and wider transfer, circulation and application of technology results, covering and reaching to all segments of the chain, upstream and downstream actors, and financial firms;
- Provision of open and shareable services: i.e. provision of open accessible software and hardware services to the society, including via open interfaces, testing data sets, model libraries, algorithm packages, etc.
- Guide and direct innovation and entrepreneurship activities of micro-, small and medium sized enterprises as well as developers: guide and encourage MSMEs and entrepreneurship teams to launch product R&D, application and testing in the corresponding field, also through the establishment of knowledge sharing and exchange communities, thus lowering business costs and creating an ecosystem for innovation.
Actors interested in establishing a New Generation AI Open Innovation Platform in a specific area/segment of AI, must fill a form and apply directly to the Ministry of Science and Technology (note: only one platform can exist for each specific area/segment), after an official endorsement has been received by supervising bodies.
New Generation AI Open Innovation Platform were mentioned for the first time during an AI-related national conference in November 2017 – which established the first four Open Innovation platforms:
- Baidu Autonomous Driving National AI Open Innovation Platform. Over the last two years and a half, Baidu has invested over 1.5 billion USD in AI-related research, and it 2017 it established a National Engineering Laboratory on Deep Learning Technologies and Application.
- Alibaba Cloud (Aliyun) Urban Cognition National AI Open Innovation Platform. In October 2017 Alibaba announced a 15 billion USD investment in seven R&D labs in and outside China (Beijing, Hangzhou, San Mateo, Bellevue, Moscow, Tel Aviv, and Singapore), focusing on quantum computing and human-machine interaction.
- Tencent Medical Imaging National Open Innovation Platform. Tencent is aggressively investing in domestic and international start-ups focusing on AI applications in healthcare, for instance on Chinese unicorn We Doctor which provides online healthcare services.
- iFLYTEK Voice Intelligence National AI Open Innovation Platform. In June 2017 iFLYTEK was ranked as the 6th smartest company in the world by MIT Technology Review – the highest ranked Chinese company on the list – and in December of the same year it established a State Key Laboratory on cognitive intelligence.
These were followed around one year later by SenseTime Intelligent Vision National AI Open Innovation Platform.
In addition to becoming beneficiaries of government services and funding programmes (particularly the “New Generation Artificial Intelligence” 2030 Megaproject), entities involved in New Generation AI Open Innovation Platforms are expected to receive strong support from the government in the regulatory/adminstrative sphere. For instance, the Beijing local government has allowed Baidu to become the first company to test driverless cars on Beijing’s streets. Alibaba was enabled to monitor and intervene in Hangzhou’s traffic, taking automated decisions on road planning, bus routes, and traffic lights. Tencent received the authorisation to establish clinics and a laboratory powered by AI technologies. This kind of support results in substantial advancements for the companies vis-à-vis their competitors in pushing forward technology application/demonstration.