Qualcomm to invest $100m in AI startups

The chip maker has unveiled a new venture fund which will invest in early-stage startups, starting with facial and body recognition company AnyVision


Qualcomm announced on Wednesday its plans to start a venture fund that will invest at least $100m in early-stage startups that work in AI. In particular, the fund, named Qualcomm Venture Funds, will target companies that are developing ways to do intensive processing on devices such as smartphones and security cameras, as opposed to those working in remote cloud systems, CNet reported.

"If you look at the smartphone today, this is one of the biggest AI platforms," stated Quinn Li, head of Qualcomm Ventures. "We want to make edge AI a ubiquitous platform."

This move suggests the San Diego-based telecommunications giant, the world's largest chip maker, is ready to join the fierce AI competition its fellow tech giants are currently embarking on including Apple, Amazon, Google and Samsung.

At the time of the announcement, Qualcomm revealed that Qualcomm Venture Funds had made its first investment in AnyVision, an Isreali AI-enabled facial and body recognition startup. According to Globes, it plans to invest between $2m–$5m to help AnyVision develop in areas such as image and voice processing.

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Li described AnyVision as having "a unique approach to AI, particularly around facial recognition".

He also outlined the future of the fund, stating that "through the AI Fund, we'll continue to seek out startups, with a focus on autonomous cars, robotics, computer vision and IoT, who are developing new AI applications, advanced machine-learning technologies and AI/ML platforms across different verticals."

Its efforts to focus on AI innovation has demonstrated that that company has been putting its historic legal battle with Apple behind it and moving forward. Last month, after a dispute beginning in 2017, Qualcomm demanded $7bn off Apple in unpaid royalties. However, on the same day as it announced the new fund, Qualcomm's CEO Steven Mollenkopf claimed that the two companies were "on the doorstep of finding a resolution". 

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