US microprocessor company Nvidia has added six artificial intelligence (AI) start-ups to its investment portfolio over the last 12 months.
Announced in a blog post this week, details are still thin on the ground, but are set to be discussed further at the company’s GPU Technology Conference (GTC) next month in San Jose, California.
For now, here’s what we know: the start-ups are based in three countries – America, Japan and Israel – and each brings slightly different AI capabilities to the table.
- Abeja – Tokyo-based start-up focused on AI-powered retail analytics systems
- Datalogue – New York-based AI data mining platform, developed at Cornell University, which has raised $1.5 million in seed funding from Bloomberg Beta, Flybridge and Nvidia
- Optimus Ride – MIT spin-off developing fully autonomous vehicles, which most recently raised $5.25 million in a round that included Nvidia
- SoundHound – Silicon Valley start-up building voice-enabled AI solutions, which raised $75 million from a consortium of investors, including the Samsung Catalyst Fund alongside Nvidia
- TempoQuest — Boulder, Colorado-based start-up doing GPU-accelerated weather forecasting, which Nvidia has called “the most important numerical weather prediction and regional climate model worldwide”
- Zebra Medical – Israeli-based start-up using AI to interpret medical images
In return for a stake in each company, Nvidia will provide funding, advice and valuable introductions to potential partners and customers. A seventh AI start-up investment from Nvidia is set to be announced at the GTC AI conference.
An expanding AI ecosystem
These investments mark Nvidia’s latest forays into the AI space and an expansion of what it calls its “AI ecosystem”. The company has previously invested three times in MapD, a start-up that uses graphics processing units (GPUs) to query massive databases.
In addition, Nvidia has its Inception Program, a virtual accelerator for AI and deep learning start-ups. Since this program got off the ground less than a year ago, Nvidia says it has grown to include 1,300 start-ups.
Just last week, 14 of these start-ups were invited to participate in a competition for funding. The start-ups will be evaluated by a panel of judges drawn from Fidelity Investments, Goldman Sachs, Softbank, Microsoft and Coatue, as well as Nvidia.
The six winners will be announced at an awards gala at the GTC event next month, where they will be given a share of a $1.5 million investment pot.