Innovation

Microsoft Ventures Strengthens AI Love Affair With Startup Fund

Sam Pudwell joined Silicon UK as a reporter in December 2016. As well as being the resident Cloud aficionado, he covers areas such as cyber security, government IT and sports technology, with the aim of going to as many events as possible.

Microsoft firmly believes Artificial Intelligence is the future and is looking to get a head start over its rivals in this robot revolution.

Microsoft believes Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the future and is doubling down with a fund to invest in AI companies focused on “inclusive growth and positive impact on society.”

This is the latest in a series of AI-focused moves Microsoft has made in recent months, including the formation of a non-profit AI partnership with other tech giants including Google, Amazon and Facebook.

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AI + people

“AI holds great promise to augment human capabilities and improve society by tackling some of the world’s biggest problems,” said Nagraj Kashyap, corporate vice president of Microsoft Ventures.

“Companies in this fund will help people and machines work together to increase access to education, teach new skills and create jobs, enhance the capabilities of existing workforces and improve the treatment of diseases, to name just a few examples.

“This new fund will make investments of similar size to previous Microsoft Ventures investments, and will only include businesses with promise for strong financial returns (as opposed to non-profits or NGOs). We expect our overall pace of investments will accelerate.”

The first investment from the fund will go to Montreal-based startup Element AI, which provides a platform aimed at helping organisations embrace an AI-first strategy, as well as carrying out machine learning and operations research.

Kashyap continued: “We’ll continue to partner early with entrepreneurs who are breaking through, leading change and making a positive impact as the technology landscape evolves.”

Microsoft, of course, isn’t the only company taking an interest in the progress of AI. Earlier this year Intel splashed out a reported $350 million on AI startup Nervana Systems and  and Toyota recently pledged a $1 billion investment into the area.

The race to lead the way in this robot revolution is well and truly on.

Quiz: What do you really know about Artificial Intelligence?