The US chip maker Micron Technology intends to invest up to 100 million USD in startups that work on artificial intelligence technology for autonomous cars and factory automation. The Idaho-based chip maker has launched a corporate venture capital program more than a decade ago, but his investments have been very sporadic and very close to its core business.
The return from the existing venture capital operations is stable, but the company believes that it can ultimately sell more memory chips by expanding its participation in artificial intelligence technologies as they deal with huge amounts of data that can be stored on Micron’s products.
“New funds will be invested in both hardware and software startups working on artificial intelligence technologies”, said the Chief Business Officer of Micron Technology, Sumit Sadana. “Micron has a special interest in investing in self-driving technology, added virtual reality, and technology to automate factories”, added he.
Micron Technology plans to significantly increase the pace of its investments.
Artificial intelligence tasks, such as teaching computers for image recognition or human speech, require a huge amount of data and computational power.
However, Micron’s competitors in the chip business are also aware of this. For example, Intel Corp’s venture capital division invested more than 1 billion USD over the past few years in launches of artificial intelligence, which Nvidia Corp runs a program to help several thousand small companies use its chips.
Micron explains that one fifth of venture capital funding for startups will go to women-led and minority-led teams. The Micron Foundation, the non-governmental organization of the company, will provide a 1 million USD grant fund for universities and non-profit organizations conducting research on artificial intelligence.
The first three beneficiaries are the Berkeley Artificial Intelligence Research Lab, the Stanford Precision Health and Integrated Diagnostics Center, and AI4All, a non-governmental organization that organizes summer camps for minority students.