Ex-Microsoft exec Harry Shum leads ‘digital economy’ research center in Shenzhen

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Overlooking the lush green wetlands in Hong Kong, the International Academy of Digital Economy (Idea) quietly opened Last year,

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The research institute is located on the north bank of the Shenzhen River, which separates Hong Kong from mainland China. But technically, it is located inside a special area spread over two cities: Shenzhen-Hong Kong Innovation and Technology Cooperation Zone, The name is self-explanatory. It is a joint effort of the governments of Shenzhen and Hong Kong with the support of Beijing to cooperate on scientific and technological research.

Idea is one of the organizations that have established in 3.89 km² Special AreaE – which is roughly the size of 540 football pitches – and is the brainchild of Harry Shum. The renowned computer scientist was Executive Vice President at Microsoft from 2013 to 2019 and also co-founded Microsoft Research Asia, Microsoft’s largest research arm outside the US.


Like Kai-Fu Lee, his former colleague at Microsoft, Shum was active in both the research and commercial side of AI. Now at Idea, his team aims to “develop disruptive innovative technologies based on societal needs and give back to society in a way that allows more people to benefit from the growth of the digital economy.” Many of IDEA’s research directors are also Microsoft veterans, including Yutao Xie and Jiaping Wang.

Widespread regulatory clout over Chinese Internet firms has grabbed headlines for saying Beijing has turned against the technology. But the intention of the government is a little more sharp. It is zeroing in on Big Tech considered harmful to society and the economy, companies that encourage financial market risks, gaming addiction, exploitation of gig workers, and other ills.

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Meanwhile, China sticks to its goal of promoting fundamental research and reducing reliance on Western technologies. In Shenzhen, home to tech giants such as Huawei, DJI and Tencent, the government is recruiting world-class scientists. Harry Shum and his team are among the latest to join the fleet.

Idea definitely has a buzzy name (and a great acronym). The term “digital economy” frequently appears in President Xi Jinping’s speeches about how technology can be a driving force for the economy. “The digital economy has in recent years become a key force in restructuring the global economy and transforming the global competitive landscape,” said the President. said In October. “The Internet, big data, cloud computing and other technologies are increasingly being integrated into all areas of economic and social development.”

Idea is examining how AI can transform industries such as finance, manufacturing and medical care. This week, it announced that it is Partnership with Leading Chinese Quant Trader Ubiquitous over a joint laboratory to work on “risk monitoring and avoidance for financial transaction markets” as well as “infrastructure for high-performance computing systems”.

IDEA is one of several research laboratories in Shenzhen in recent years. NS Shenzhen Institute of Data Economy, located on the Shenzhen campus of the Chinese University of Hong Kong with government support, is another group working In advance China’s digital economy.

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