Alibaba Health to expand AI investments on improved sales, e-commerce services growth

May 17, 2018
Industry News
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Zen Soo
zen.soo@scmp.com
Iris Deng
iris.deng@scmp.com
 

Alibaba Health Information Technology plans to expand its investments in artificial intelligence and launch a range of new services, as growth in sales and e-commerce services lifted its revenue in the 12 months ended March 31.

The Hong Kong-listed health care flagship of Alibaba Group Holding reported late on Wednesday a 414.2 per cent increase in revenue to 2.4 billion yuan (US$376.5 million), up from 475.1 million yuan a year earlier. Its losses narrowed to 109 million yuan from 208.6 million yuan the previous year.

The company’s shares jumped 26.13 per cent to close at HK$5.60 on Thursday.

Shen Difan, the chief executive at Alibaba Health, attributed the improved financial results to a significant rise in health care product sales and the firm’s e-commerce business, which includes the provision of outsourced and value-added services for the pharmaceutical categories on parent Alibaba’s Tmall retail platform, according to the company’s regulatory filing late on Wednesday.

It estimated an adjusted net profit of 8 million yuan after excluding share-based compensation expenses from its loss for the year to March.

Growing profitability “will enable the group to increase investment in artificial intelligence-related medical fields, as well as the launch and deployment of cutting-edge and innovative products, including intelligent medicine, internet-based medical services and personal health management”, Shen said in the company filing.

That broader commitment to artificial intelligence (AI) further intensifies the development of this field in China, which has made the technology part of national strategies since July last year.

Chinese premier Li Keqiang said in his work report earlier this year that the Chinese government will step up research, development and application of AI, and promote the Internet Plus model, which aims to integrate internet into traditional offline industries including medical care and elderly care. Continue Reading

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