Google launches AI venture fund

Google is looking to invest in artificial intelligence startups through its new venture fund, Gradient Ventures. 

The fund will provide support for startups struggling to overcome engineering challenges in relation to the creation of AI products. This includes providing startups with capital, resources, and mentorship through access to AI experts and educational boot camps.

“Through AI, yesterday’s science fiction is becoming today’s non-fiction. 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,” the company said in a blog post.

The fund will not have a specific sector it will focus on – instead, it will foster AI startups from any industry, including healthcare.

Gradient has already invested in several startups, including open algorithm marketplace Algorithmia, and media analysis AI firm Cogniac.

Gradient’s team is made up of AI engineers with the idea being to provide startups with knowledge to help them from the idea stage to product launch.

Google isn’t the first big tech company to offer such a fund. Samsung launched Samsung NEXT back in 2013, a $150 million fund to back startups working in AI, virtual reality and Internet of Things technology.

Microsoft Ventures, the venture capital arm of tech giant Microsoft, was also launched last year specifically to aid technology startups. In December, the company expanded its focus to include AI startups “focused on inclusive growth and positive impact on society.”

Google’s AI troubles

Of course, Google has an AI division of its own in DeepMind Health.

Acquired in 2014, the company is currently focusing its efforts on helping the NHS, working with several hospitals and trusts to integrate AI into different aspects of care.

One of those hospitals is the Royal Free in London with which DeepMind is developing an app to improve the treatment of acute kidney injury.

Recently, the company came under fire for the app though, thanks to a deal it struck with the NHS to access patient data.

According to the UK’s patient data watchdog, the deal which saw DeepMind gain access to the personal data of 1.6 million patients breached privacy laws due to the hospital improperly informing patients about how their data was to be handled.

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