$100m AI Startup Fund Revealed By Qualcomm

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Qualcomm, a telecoms company that is based in the United States of America, has launched a $100m (£78.3m) fund that is aimed as an investment in AI startups in an attempt to promote new technology for robots and self-driving cars.

The Qualcomm Ventures AI Fund will concentrate on companies that are developing “on-device AI.” It comes as the telecoms firm is planning to spread the use of new technology on mobile devices.

Specifically, Qualcomm said that it will be providing capital to the startups that build on-device AI, which is AI that runs on the end device, such as a smartphone or a vehicle, rather than in the cloud. Albert Wang, the investment director of Qualcomm who managed the first investment out of the fund, says that on-device AI is the future.

During an interview, Wang stated: “Today’s AI processing is very computationally intensive.”

He added: “When you’re talking to Alexa, nothing is processed on your device, it gets taken to the cloud and gets scrunched there. There are a few problems with that — performance deteriorates, it consumes a lot of bandwidth and there are privacy issues. Imagine you have an Alexa that is more private and user-friendly, you ask the questions and can get the answers instantly. It doesn’t take the round trip all the way to the cloud.”

A face and body recognition startup that is called AnyVision is the first recipient of investment from the said fund. The fund was revealed at the Qualcomm 5G and AI summit that was held in San Francisco.

Qualcomm did not disclose that amount that it had invested in the said startup.

Steve Mollenkopf, the chief executive of  Qualcomm, stated: “For over a decade, Qualcomm has been investing in the future of machine learning.”

He added: “Qualcomm’s AI strategy couples leading 5G connectivity with our research and development, fuelling AI to transform industries, business models and experiences.”

Qualcomm is the latest technology company to commit significant funding to the AI sector.

Last October, Micron, its rival company, also announced that it will be investing $100 million in the sector, while Intel has made huge AI investments in Israel, India, and China this November.