MOUNTAIN VIEW –Samsung NEXT, the startup arm of electronics giant Samsung, is working with entrepreneurs and innovators to build, grow and scale software and services. The division has formed the Samsung NEXT Q Fund to invest in Artificial Intelligence (AI) startups.
Q Fund will provide Seed and Series A financing to startups solving AI problems, as well as those using AI to solve computer science problems. Q Fund will enable Samsung NEXT to work closely with innovators, researchers and startups to create meaningful exposure to the entire AI stack.
“For the past ten years, we’ve watched software eat the world. Now, it’s AI’s turn to eat software,” said Vincent Tang, Samsung NEXT Ventures. “We’re launching Q Fund to support the next generation of AI startups who look to scratch beyond the surface of what we know today.”
Samsung NEXT is focused on what the world will look like in five years and beyond—and helping make that a reality. Aligned with this long term point of view, Samsung NEXT Q Fund represents a departure from how traditional venture capital approaches investments in AI. With Q Fund, Samsung NEXT Ventures will have the flexibility to invest in non-obvious, forward-thinking approaches to AI instead of the applied AI technologies we see in the market today.
Problem spaces Q Fund will examine could include areas such as learning in simulation, scene understanding, intuitive physics, program learning programs, automl, robot control, human computer interaction and meta learning. Q Fund is particularly interested in innovators who apply novel approaches to these challenges, which have historically been immune to conventional techniques.
“There are multiple approaches to building fundamental AI technology,” said Ajay Singh, Samsung NEXT Ventures. “And we want to invest in the people and teams who will try new approaches to lay the groundwork for what AI will be. For this reason, Q Fund will prioritize technical diligence over revenue models.”
Samsung NEXT has made several investments in AI from its Samsung NEXT Fund. From Q Fund specifically, the company recently invested in Covariant.AI, which draws on advances in imitation learning and deep reinforcement learning to teach robots new, complex skills. This investment highlights Q Fund’s focus on startups replacing conventional algorithms, data structures, and general purpose computer programs with learned systems.
“We’re at a critical juncture in the development of robotics—learning approaches are about to open up a wide range of new applications,” said Pieter Abbeel, Professor at Berkeley Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences and founder of Covariant.AI. “Q Fund understands how many ‘grand challenge’ problems, including drastically expanding robotic capabilities, will be solvable with an AI-first approach.”