Allen Institute raises $30m to invest in AI-focused start-ups

12 May 2023

Image: © Who is Danny/

Founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, the institute wants to ‘drive a new wave of AI-first innovation’ with its latest fund.

The Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence has raised $30m in funding for start-ups innovating in AI-based technologies.

Established in 2014 by the late co-founder of Microsoft, Paul Allen, the Allen Institute is a research organisation that is on a mission to “contribute to humanity through high-impact AI research and engineering”.

Backed by big names in investing, including Madrona, Sequoia Capital, Khosla Ventures and Evergreen Gavekal Ventures, the fund will be used to invest in AI-focused start-ups born out of the institute’s incubator programme.

“With Fund II, our community is poised to drive a new wave of AI-first innovation that will transform our world,” said Jacob Colker, managing director of the AI2 incubator, in a post on LinkedIn.

“With years of new resources, we are ready to partner with the next generation of visionary entrepreneurs to help them turn their bold ideas into game-changing companies.”

The AI2 incubator is the Allen Institute’s flagship programme for AI start-ups.

“We partner with entrepreneurs that use revolutionary AI models to create products that people love,” Colker explained, adding that AI2 acts as a “small minority co-founder” that invests an average of $600,000 and provides up to 12 months of general start-up support.

“This culminates in helping start-ups raise millions of dollars of seed funding. We also offer significant additional benefits that are unique to founders that are building an AI-first company.”

This includes a “strategic relationship” with the AI2 Research Institute, a private community of more than 100 AI-first founders and executives.

“Ultimately, AI-first companies have unique challenges, and it takes real expertise to overcome and win. It’s so much more than slapping a front-end skin on top of an API.”

Headquartered in Seattle, AI2 is backed by $100m in annual funding, according to GeekWire, and employs more than 200 AI researchers, engineers, academics and other staff.

In general, start-ups focusing on AI technologies have raised more than $19bn this year, according to Crunchbase data, putting 2023 on track to exceed the nearly $42bn funding raised by the sector last year.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic