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Google Launches AI Fund

Google has reportedly rolled out a new venture capital fund focused on artificial intelligence.

According to a report in Axios, citing multiple unnamed sources, this is the first time Google has made an investment effort that is focused on specific technology. What’s more, the fund is being led by engineers at the company instead of venture capitalist investors, a first for Google.

The report noted the new fund is being led by Anna Patterson, who is vice president of engineering at Google with a specialty in artificial intelligence. Ankit Jain, who the report said returned to Google’s engineering department in April, is also part of the effort. Jain had served as VP of product at SimilarWeb, noted the report. Other Google AI engineers also are expected to rotate through the program, which is aimed at giving startups hands-on mentorship, incubator space and services in certain circumstances. Patterson will report to executives at Google instead of parent company Alphabet.

Axios noted the fund is looking to make investments in the $1 million to $10 million range and that it would invest with Google Ventures if the right opportunity arose. The push by Google comes at a time when all sorts of technology companies are eyeing the AI and augmented reality spaces as the next bastions of growth. Google has long been a player in this area, and by having engineers rather than venture capitalists invest in startups, it is taking a unique approach to the market.

As noted in a TechCrunch report, Google wants to be a leader in AI, with its Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai recently proclaiming Google aims to become “AI-first,” rather than “mobile-first.”

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