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Alphabet Launches Investment Fund for AI Startups

Mitch Wagner

Google parent Alphabet has launched Gradient Ventures, a firm within Google to invest in early-stage AI startups.

Gradient won't just provide startups with money; the new companies will also get access to Google experts and bootcamps, while Google takes a minority stake in startups in which it invests, according to a post on the Google blog announcingGradient on Tuesday.

The company's AI investments have already begun, including Algorithmia, a marketplace for algorithms and functions, as well as Cogniac, a tool suite for creating and managing visual models, Alphabet says.

A cyberman from the TV series Doctor Who, in the 1960s. Definitely artificial, but if it were truly intelligent, it would know smoking is bad for you. Via Vintage Geek Culture
A cyberman from the TV series Doctor Who, in the 1960s. Definitely artificial, but if it were truly intelligent, it would know smoking is bad for you. Via Vintage Geek Culture

Gradient will invest in ten to 15 deals this year, committing $1 million to $8 million each, according to a CNBC article. Alphabet is looking to spur innovation in AI.

Alphabet declined to comment to Enterprise Cloud News, but pointed us to the CNBC article.

Gradient portfolio companies will be able to get advanced AI training from Google, with a Google engineer working onsite and providing assistance for a set period of time, CNBC says.

In addition to Algorithmia, other startups already participating in the program include: Aurima; Cape, a service for remotely controlling drones; and Dyndrite, CNBC says.

Rumors of the AI fund first surfaced in May. (See Google Placing Multiple Bets on AI – Reports .)

Separately, Google this week announced the People + AI Research initiative (PAIR), to study and redesign the ways people interact with AI systems, according to a post on the Google blog.

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In March, Google acquired Kaggle, a platform for hosting data science and machine learning competitions.

Google also authored TensorFlow, an open source machine intelligence library.

AI is a growing opportunity for technology providers. Enterprises are looking to increase AI and cognitive computing spending by nearly 60% in 2017, to $12.5 billion by the end of the year, according to IDC. (See AI, Cognitive Spending Soaring to $12.5B in 2017.)

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