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Google Offices in Berlin
The Google logo. Adam Berry — Getty Images

Google Just Joined the Latest Tech Trend

Jul 11, 2017

Google has created a new venture fund focused on artificial intelligence, the latest tech company to create specific teams to invest in small startups that specialize in this cutting-edge technology.

The aim of the venture fund, called Gradient Ventures, is to help early stage startups overcome engineering challenges and ultimately create products that use AI to solve modern-day challenges, Google said in a blog post Tuesday.

The fund has already invested in four startups, including Algorithmia, Cogniac, Cape, and Aurima. Google didn't provide details about the size of the fund or how much it invested in any of the companies in its portfolio. The fund will provide capital, access to experts, and training.

Gradient is staffed by a number of engineers, the idea being that they can offer the kind of expertise and troubleshooting that founders AI startups may need. The venture fund was founded and is managed by Anna Patterson[f500link ignore=true], who most recently was Google’s vice president of engineering in AI, a position in which she helped integrate AI into products across the company.

AI-focused venture funds are all the rage these days. Just hours before Google's announcement, Toyota Research Institute introduced its own $100 million venture fund called <a href="http://fortune.com/2017/07/11/toyota-venture-capital-research/">Toyota AI Ventures</a>. Toyota said the fund will invest in startups specializing in artificial intelligence, self-driving vehicles, robotics, data analytics, and cloud computing technology.

In the past year a number of tech companies have launched funds aimed at AI, including Samsung and [f500link]Microsoft. Samsung's startup investment arm, Samsung NEXT created a $150 million fund to finance early-stage startups specializing in artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and Internet-connected devices. Microsoft's investment fund is focused on startups using AI for "inclusive growth and positive impact on society."

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