Google creates early-stage venture fund focused on investing in AI

12 Jul 2017

Image: PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek/Shutterstock

New Google venture initiative will provide funding and mentorship for early-stage AI start-ups.

Google has created a new venture arm called Gradient Ventures, which will not only invest in AI start-ups, but will also provide interesting experiences for Google engineers.

The company believes that AI-powered technology holds a lot of promise, from improving patient health to making data centres more efficient.

‘Through AI, yesterday’s science fiction is becoming today’s nonfiction’

Future Human

“But, while we’ve seen some amazing applications of AI so far, we know there are many more out there that haven’t even been imagined yet. And sometimes, these new ideas need support to flourish,” said Anna Patterson, founder and managing partner of Gradient Ventures.

Mind over matter

Gradient will invest in 10 to 15 deals this year and will commit between $1m and $8m to each deal.

As well as the funding, Gradient will focus on providing technical mentorship for early-stage start-ups, facilitated by seasoned Google engineers eager to work with young companies.

“Many members of our team are engineers, so we’re familiar with the journey from big idea to product launch. The goal is to help our portfolio companies overcome engineering challenges to create products that will apply artificial intelligence to today’s challenges and those we’ll face in the future,” said Patterson.

The fund has already invested in two companies: Algorithmia, a marketplace for algorithms and functions; and Cogniac, a suite of tools to create and manage visual models.

“Through AI, yesterday’s science fiction is becoming today’s nonfiction,” said Patterson.

“There’s everything to reimagine as we usher in this new era of technology – and we’re excited to work with entrepreneurs to start building it.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years