China offers AI computing ‘vouchers’ to its underpowered start-ups

Image of someone clicking a cloud icon.
Image Credit: Shutterstock (Image credit: Shutterstock)

China is putting plans into action to support AI startups, despite ongoing chip shortages both globally and locally as a result of geopolitical tensions and subsequent sanctions.

According to the Financial Times, the Chinese government is rolling out the initiative across 17 cities, whereby AI startups will be able to get cloud computing vouchers to grant them access to the tools they need without having to fork out large initial investments.

In a bid to reduce the financial burden of establishing their own data centers, China is set to provide vouchers worth between $140,000 and $280,000 to cover cloud computing.

Cloud computing vouchers and more

The financial aid will allow AI businesses to access crucial AI infrastructure such as data centers, for the purpose of training and running LLMs.

The move is believed to be a response to recent US measures, including restrictions on products and services, which have caused a shortage of chips across the country.

A sudden reduction in chip volume has reportedly seen China resort to stockpiling, acquiring via the black market, and even repurposing other components.

A separate report by BNN has uncovered potential plans by the Chinese government to introduce a subsidy scheme for AI groups using domestic chips in order to reduce dependence on foreign companies.

It is believed that voucher applicants must meet certain criteria in order to be considered eligible, including a minimum revenue threshold or participation in government-sponsored projects.

The voucher scheme is clearly an important and valuable tool for Chinese AI startups, however it’s merely a temporary solution and doesn’t solve the country’s chip shortage, leaving many questioning whether China may be able to sustain such impressive levels of growth in the AI sector.

More from TechRadar Pro

Craig Hale

With several years’ experience freelancing in tech and automotive circles, Craig’s specific interests lie in technology that is designed to better our lives, including AI and ML, productivity aids, and smart fitness. He is also passionate about cars and the decarbonisation of personal transportation. As an avid bargain-hunter, you can be sure that any deal Craig finds is top value!