Investment in AI startups is at an all time high, with Microsoft searching for its slice of the pie. Following in the footsteps of tech giants Apple, Facebook and Amazon, Microsoft has launched its Station F scheme to fund AI companies. The premise of the scheme is to connect young companies with mentors, investors and researchers in order to accelerate the industry.
Five startups will initially be brought into the scheme, starting with Recast.ai, a platform where developers can “build, train, deploy and monitor intelligent bots”. President of Microsoft global sales, marketing and operations, Jean-Philippe Courtois, hopes that the scheme will be able to help out 100 startups within the first five years of the programme.
“I firmly believe AI will play a major role in tackling some of the big global challenges we currently face in healthcare, farming, environment and education,” said Courtois. “It’s relevant to businesses, governments and individuals in all countries. By helping a new wave of AI-led companies to expand internationally, we further democratise AI and help bring its benefits to more people.”
The announcement comes just days after Intel announced that it was investing in a similar scheme. In a bid to stay ahead of the pack, Intel is throwing its weight behind the rise of artificial intelligence. In the hope of accelerating AI innovation, the US chipmaker has made three new capital investments. Expecting AI to be the driver for the next big wave of computing, Intel has made investments in CognitiveScale (a provider that specialises in industry-specific machine learning software), AEye (a robotic vision pioneer) and Element AI (an AI solutions firm).
“Artificial intelligence promises to transform society on the scale of the industrial, technical, and digital revolutions before it,” a spokesman for Intel said. “Machines that can sense, reason, and act will accelerate solutions to large-scale problems in myriad of fields, including science, finance, medicine and education, augmenting human capability and helping us to go further, farther, faster. Buoyed by Moore’s Law and fed by a deluge of data, AI is at the heart of much of today’s technical innovation.”