IBM has unveiled a $500 million venture fund aimed at investing in a diverse range of AI companies, ranging from early-stage startups to hyper-growth enterprises. The fund will focus on advancing generative AI technology and research for the enterprise, with the goal of enhancing AI’s role in business operations globally.
The IBM Enterprise AI Venture Fund is set to support both current and emerging AI leaders that are enabling businesses worldwide to harness the potential of AI for their operations. Led by a dedicated team at IBM with extensive experience as successful investors and enterprise AI experts, the fund will offer startups opportunities to establish meaningful partnerships with IBM, benefit from operational expertise in product development and engineering, and refine their go-to-market strategies.
IBM has a strong history of delivering proven enterprise AI technology and capabilities to organizations globally, and it’s now capitalizing on the latest wave of AI innovation in generative AI with watsonx, the company’s AI and data platform. Through the Enterprise AI Venture Fund, IBM aims to expand its AI partnership ecosystem, working closely with companies that are using and building on watsonx, thereby creating long-term value for AI leaders as well as both new and existing clients.
Rob Thomas, Senior Vice President, Software, and Chief Commercial Officer at IBM, emphasized the potential of AI, saying, “AI is slated to unlock nearly $16 trillion in productivity by 2030. 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. 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.”
A Unique Approach to AI Investment
IBM has consistently demonstrated its dedication to promoting AI for business through various investments in AI technology and companies. For instance, in August, IBM announced its participation in the $235 million Series D funding round of Hugging Face, a prominent open-source collaboration platform for the machine learning community focused on shaping the future of AI. IBM has contributed hundreds of open models and datasets to the Hugging Face hub, enhancing the open-source ecosystem. IBM’s contributions have played a pivotal role in democratizing AI and promoting open innovation.
Hugging Face co-founder and CEO, Clem Delangue, praised IBM’s contribution, stating, “We’ve been thrilled to collaborate with IBM in democratizing AI. With hundreds of open models on the Hugging Face hub, they are significantly boosting the open-source ecosystem. This is the reason why we wanted to have them join our Series D round. I am convinced that they’ll be able to accelerate their impact on AI with the IBM Enterprise AI Venture Fund.”
IBM has also actively engaged in funding efforts for AI security. The company participated in the Series A funding of HiddenLayer, a leading provider of security solutions for AI models and assets. This funding round marked the largest Series A funding raised by a cybersecurity company focused on safeguarding AI this year.
Chris Sestito, CEO, and Co-founder of HiddenLayer, praised IBM for its commitment to secure and responsible AI, access to global clients, and innovative capabilities. He stated, “IBM’s commitment to progressing secure and responsible AI, access to global clients, and the scale of one of the most innovative companies in the world has made them the perfect partner to support us in driving the next stage of our business growth. Our partnership will help us bring our AI threat detection capabilities to the most cutting-edge companies in the world.”
Today’s announcement builds on IBM’s momentum in the AI sector, particularly with its watsonx platform. The company continues to leverage third-party and proprietary AI models to accelerate open innovation in AI.
IBM recently unveiled the general availability of the first models in the watsonx Granite model series, comprising generative AI models that aim to enhance the integration of generative AI into business applications and workflows. Moreover, IBM confirmed that standard contractual intellectual property protections for IBM products would apply to IBM-developed watsonx AI models.
In line with its open innovation strategy, IBM also announced its plans to host Meta’s Llama 2-chat 70 billion parameter model within watsonx, further demonstrating its commitment to embracing third-party AI models to advance open innovation in the AI space.