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IBM Launches $500 Million Venture Fund to Fuel Innovation in Enterprise AI

IBM is launching a $500 million venture fund to invest in artificial intelligence (AI) companies.

The fund’s primary focus will be on accelerating generative AI technology and research for the enterprise, IBM said in a Tuesday (Nov. 7) press release. The IBM Enterprise AI Venture Fund aims to invest in current and future AI firms that are driving the adoption of AI in businesses worldwide. 

The fund will provide startups with opportunities to establish meaningful partnerships with IBM, gain operational expertise in product and engineering, and develop go-to-market strategies. Led by a team of investors and enterprise AI experts, the fund aims to fuel innovation, strategic partnerships and generate returns by investing in enterprise AI-focused startups.

“With the launch of the IBM Enterprise AI Venture Fund, we’re opening another channel to harness the enormous potential of the AI revolution into tangible, positive outcomes for IBM and the companies we invest in, Rob Thomas, senior vice president, software and chief commercial officer and IBM, said. “This fund is yet another way we’re doubling down on our commitment to responsible AI innovation through watsonx and helping organizations put this transformational technology to work.” 

IBM has been increasingly backing businesses in the AI space. 

In August, the tech giant participated in the $235 million Series D funding round of Hugging Face, an open-source platform for the machine learning community. IBM has contributed numerous open models and datasets on Hugging Face, including the Geospatial Foundation Model developed in partnership with NASA, according to the press release. 

IBM is also making its own forays into the space.

The tech firm debuted watsonx in May, an artificial intelligence platform to help businesses integrate AI.

“We built IBM watsonx for the needs of enterprises, so that clients can be more than just users, they can become AI advantaged,” CEO Arvind Krishna said at the time. “With IBM watsonx, clients can quickly train and deploy custom AI capabilities across their entire business, all while retaining full control of their data.”

The company recently announced the general availability of the first models in the watsonx Granite model series, aimed at advancing the infusion of generative AI into business applications and workflows, per the release. IBM also confirmed that standard contractual intellectual property protections for IBM products will apply to IBM-developed watsonx AI models. Furthermore, IBM plans to host Meta’s Llama 2-chat 70 billion parameter model within watsonx. 

All this comes as business increasingly consider using AI to boost their efficiencies. 

Andrew Gleiser, chief revenue officer at payments provider Aeropay, told PYMNTS earlier this year that he sees “two areas in the near term” that generative AI technology can impact, and one “right now” that is already taking off.

“There’s a huge opportunity to help customers deploy core features faster, and [for businesses] to repurpose staff to help with more advanced integrations,” he said.

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