Qualcomm launches $100M AI fund

By Folake Dosu  |  December 3, 2018

artificial-intelligence-qualcomm

Qualcomm, the San Diego based chipmaker, has no intention of being left behind in the future of artificial intelligence. TechCrunch reports the company’s internal VC firm is investing up to $100 million in artificial intelligence, specifically in startups with an on-device AI focus.

“Today’s AI processing is very computationally intensive. 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.”

“Today’s AI processing is very computationally intensive,” investment director Albert Wang told TechCrunch. “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.”

According to TechCrunch, prior AI investments include Chinese AI facial recognition company SenseTime as well as AI-enabled autonomous driving technology startup Cruise, which was acquired by GM. AnyVision, an Israel based face, body and object recognition startup, is the first company to receive investment from Qualcomm’s AI fund.

While Qualcomm Ventures usually funds 12 to 15 startups annually, it does not have a specific number in mind for the AI fund, although funding will be between $1 million and $10 million per deal, TechCrunch reports.

Qualcomm does not usually opt for specialized funds with the exception of a digital healthcare fund that invested in Fitbit and other health tech companies years ago. Wang, however, told TechCrunch that he felt Qualcomm was uniquely suited to invest in AI companies.

“Qualcomm is very big on the mobile platform and it’s gaining ground in the IoT space, so there are a lot of tech partnerships we can provide, a lot of market insight we can provide from both the hardware and software perspective, and just given our exposure, in general, we have a pretty big portfolio of companies.”

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