Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing subsidiary of the world’s biggest online retailer Alibaba, has launched strategic collaboration and a joint innovation center together with the Helsinki-based software company Eficode. The center helps Nordic companies with operations in China and develops new business solutions based on artificial intelligence and machine learning.
It seems quite natural that Alibaba Cloud found its way to Helsinki. After all, internationalization is very important for the company, and the Nordic area is an essential part of its European expansion strategy. The company is partner-oriented and prefers to grow by supporting and working with a local partner, creating a win-win ecosystem. And they already knew a potential partner in Helsinki before entering the market.
Alibaba Cloud’s path to the Nordic area was paved by the partnership of its sister company Alipay with Eficode’s sister company ePassi, launched in 2016 to develop a smart tourist ecosystem in Finland for Chinese visitors.
“Eficode has a very strong DevOps automation presence in the Nordic countries, and cloud companies are very interested in this kind of software engineering. The successful collaboration of ePassi and Alipay gave both companies confidence that Eficode would be an ideal partner for Alibaba Cloud,” says Chief Financial Officer Alexander Yin from Eficode.
As Eficode has its headquarters in Helsinki, it was also the natural location for the new innovation center launched by the two companies.
“It’s also important to remember that Finland’s track record in innovation is globally recognized. From the Chinese point of view, Finland is rich in ideas, but a company like Alibaba Cloud can contribute data resources – real business cases from China. It benefits both countries to have Chinese and Finnish experts working together,” Yin says.
From budding ideas to blooming business
The new innovation center is now operating under Eficode’s roof in Helsinki with experts from both companies. The start has been straightforward, with previous experience from the collaboration of ePassi and Alipay easing the way and people quickly learning each other’s work culture.
“The Finnish governmental entities have been extremely helpful. Helsinki Business Hub has invited us to participate and speak in their events, facilitated our communication when setting up this collaboration, connected us with various stakeholders in different organizations and helped us with marketing and many other things. The collaboration of Alipay and ePassi has shown that their support is particularly valuable when we are moving into new business areas,” Yin explains.
The innovation center has ambitious goals. First, it will be working on cutting-edge cloud technologies and infrastructure to help customers meet digital challenges and grow their business. Alibaba Cloud’s strong presence in the Chinese market provides a great platform for Nordic companies that wish to expand their operations to China or have already entered the market.
Secondly, Alibaba Cloud and Eficode will jointly develop new business solutions leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning.
“This is a business area that a lot of people are talking about, but there are not many real, large-scale cases yet in the Nordic market. Our goal is to be the forerunner by combining automated software development with AI and machine learning to create leading business solutions in our new innovation center,” says Alexander Yin.
Furthermore, the innovation center will create an ecosystem to increase the collaboration between businesses, universities, research institutes and startups to foster budding ideas into blooming business.
“To reach these goals and to serve customers all around the Nordic region, we will keep growing our team and the headcount of the innovation center in the future. It’s also important to expand our infrastructure,” Yin says and estimates that the collaboration will allow Eficode to hire approximately six new employees in Helsinki in the next two years.
Text: Anu Jussila