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Google Unveils Gradient Ventures To Fund Artificial Intel Startups

Artificial intelligence could help solve a wide variety of problems, and Google is among the large tech companies trying to achieve breakthroughs in that area before the competition. With that goal in mind, Google has launched a new venture fund that will provide money and expertise to AI startups in return for a minority stake in those firms.

Gradient Ventures aims to help startup companies overcome the engineering challenges that can prevent AI applications from being developed into helpful technology products, according to Anna Patterson, the fund’s founder and managing partner. She announced the fund’s launch in a Google blog post, July 11.

Although Gradient Ventures is just now making its formal debut, the fund has been active for more than a month, and it’s already made investments in at least four AI startups: Algorithmia, Aurima, Cape, and Cogniac.

Startups Focused on Algorithms, Drones, Deep Learning

“Through Gradient, we’ll provide portfolio companies with capital, resources, and dedicated access to experts and bootcamps in AI,” Patterson wrote yesterday. “Many members of our team are engineers, so we’re familiar with the journey from big idea to product launch.”

She added, “The goal is to help our portfolio companies overcome engineering challenges to create products that will apply artificial intelligence to today’s challenges and those we’ll face in the future.”

Formerly an AI/computer science researcher at Stanford University, Patterson has been vice president of engineering at Google since 2010. According to her profile on LinkedIn, she has been leading Gradient Ventures since April.

Algorithmia, an open marketplace for algorithms and one of the companies Gradient Ventures has invested in, announced last month that it received $10.5 million in Series A financing from Google and other venture capital organizations. Cape, which virtualizes drone hardware, has raised a similar amount from “leading investors.”

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