IBM has a $500m fund for B2B generative AI start-ups

8 Nov 2023

Image: © dvoevnore/

The latest in a series of AI investments, the enterprise-focused venture fund for start-ups will open another channel to harness the tech’s ‘enormous potential’.

IBM has become the latest tech giant to create investment for start-ups developing generative AI with its new $500m venture fund.

Aimed at companies of all sizes, from early-stage start-ups to hyper-growth enterprises, the fund builds on many other recent AI developments announced by the company, including an AI assistant to translate COBOL code to Java.

The fund puts IBM in a growing club of tech giants investing in AI, including Salesforce, Workday, OpenAI and Amazon, all of whom have either raised funding or established accelerator programmes for generative AI start-ups this year.

IBM said the fund will provide each start-up with opportunities to develop “meaningful partnerships” with the tech giant while gaining operational expertise on product and engineering and go-to-market strategies.

Rob Thomas, senior vice-president of software and chief commercial officer at IBM, said that AI is slated to unlock trillions of dollars in productivity in the coming years.

“With the launch of the IBM Enterprise AI Venture Fund, we’re opening another channel to harness the enormous potential of the AI revolution into tangible, positive outcomes for IBM and the companies we invest in,” he said.

“This fund is yet another way we’re doubling down on our commitment to responsible AI innovation through WatsonX and helping organisations put this transformational technology to work.”

IBM has been making significant investments in AI start-ups already. In August, it joined Salesforce, Google, Nvidia and Amazon in backing a $235m Series D funding round by Hugging Face, which valued the open-source AI start-up at $4.5bn.

It also has a partnership with NASA to apply an AI foundation model to the vast amounts of geospatial data collected by the space agency to gain insights into Earth’s climate. This model was released on Hugging Face in August to make it available to the public.

In September, Irish space-tech company Ubotica struck a partnership with IBM to use its cloud infrastructure and Watson AI and make deploying space AI applications a one-click affair.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic