Baidu has launched an RMB 1bn ($140m) innovation fund to attract developers to its mini-program ecosystem, called Smart Mini Programs.
The Chinese search giant will target start-ups and developers with courses, seminars, workshops and mentors, to help accelerate the construction of mini-programs on its platforms.
According to a report by NetEase Tech, the fund was announced by Baidu vice president Shen Dou at an event in Beijing.
The move aims to optimise Baidu’s platform experience for users and brands by enabling fast access to app platforms
Baidu is the latest of China’s internet giants to incorporate the mini-program technology into their ecosystems. First created by WeChat to get around the Apple App Store, mini-programs are mini-apps which run inside existing applications and do not need to be downloaded.
Mini-programs have since been adopted across Tencent, Alibaba and ByteDance apps.
Baidu launched its Smart Mini Programs in July, according to TechNode. Mobile apps, such as iQiyi, Baidu Tieba, Bilibili, Kuaishou, Moji Weather and Chinese Calendar, have joined Baidu’s open-source alliance and plan to launch mini-programs.
Baidu claims to have over 150 million monthly active users using its Smart Mini Programs. WeChat's Mini Programs reach 200 million daily active users.