JD.com, China’s second largest e-commerce company by revenue, announced the launch of a global startup accelerator focused on funding new blockchain ventures called AI Catapult.
AI Catapult, announced by JD.com in a February 27 press release, aims to draw in startups which develop artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain technology which the firm can turn around and use to make its own operations more efficient.
According to the release, five startups have already been chosen to participate in the launch of the accelerator: Chinese fintech company Bankorous, Australian gig economy platform CanYa; Singapore-based blockchain-powered database service Bluezelle, London-based blockchain payments and ID platform Nuggets, and blockchain product verification protocol Devery.
The five participating companies “will have the opportunity to work with a wide variety of operational teams within JD” to “create and test real-world applications of their technologies at scale,” gaining hands on experience while helping JD.com cut costs and improve their business.
JD.com, which earned RMB260 billion ($41.2 billion) in 2016, is no stranger to investing in future tech. The company has experimented with an autonomous drone delivery program and has made numerous forays into blockchain.
The company partnered with US retailer Walmart in December 2017 on a blockchain project to track food through the supply chain while its cloud computing arm JD Cloud launched a Blockchain-as-a-Service platform earlier this year.
AI Catapult will “help JD’s AI research division find new ways to use AI to improve blockchain technology,” with a particular focus in “scalability, security, privacy, efficiency and energy consumption.”