Qualcomm sets up $100M fund to invest in AI startups

Representational image courtesy Qualcomm

Representational image courtesy Qualcomm

Qualcomm Ventures has just announced a $100 million investment into the future of artificial intelligence, with the corporate venture capital arm of the Snapdragon giant putting the gauntlet down on AI.

The US$100mn fund will invest more specifically in firms which "share the vision of on-device AI becoming more powerful and widespread", according to Qualcomm's press statement.

The company describes a shift of AI to the edge, in a combination of on-device capabilities and edge cloud, and says the industry is beginning to see the potential of 5G to make mobile the pervasive AI platform.

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Qualcomm has been investing in its own processors and hardware, both traditional and mobile, for years in preparation for on-the-go AI, augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR) applications, alongside 5G.

"Qualcomm's AI strategy couples leading 5G connectivity with our research and development, fuelling AI to transform industries, business models and experiences".

For now, Qualcomm has said that Qualcomm Venture Funds had made its first investment in AnyVision, an Israeli AI facial and body recognition startup. Qualcomm said AnyVision's use of on-device AI minimizes the spread of data, which helps ease privacy concerns. Qualcomm says its (AnyVision) unique data acquisition strategy, together with its proprietary algorithms, are expected to provide enormous value to customers.

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This move suggests the San Diego-based telecommunications giant, the world's largest chip maker, is ready to join the fierce AI competition its fellow tech giants are now embarking on including Apple, Amazon, Google and Samsung.

Qualcomm Ventures' AI investments include Cruise Automation, Brain Corp., Clarifai, Prospera, SenseTime and Retail Next.

The San Diego-based wireless pioneer said its Qualcomm Ventures AI Fund will fund startups developing new technology for autonomous cars, robotics and machine-learning platforms. Qualcomm is actually interested in investing in early-stage start-ups and that is why AnyVision is so attractive for the venture. As a global investor, we're focused on building the connections that bring our mobile future forward.

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