Microsoft Ventures announces investment in AI startups in “long bet” on AI and people

By Oliver Griffin December 14, 2016

Microsoft Ventures has announced that it will expand its original mandate of supporting cloud companies that help enterprises navigate digital transformation to include projects in Artificial Intelligence (AI).

A new fund — Element AI — has been created to make investments of similar size to previous Microsoft Ventures investments, and will only include businesses with promise for strong financial returns (as opposed to non-profits or NGOs).

Recently writing in Slate, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that AI must be designed to assist humanity, that it must be transparent and maximize efficiency without destroying human dignity, as well as other qualities you can read here.

Element AI, is an incubator and platform that helps organizations embrace an AI-first strategy in support of these principles.

Based in Montreal, Canada, the Element AI team is composed of academic researchers with strong connections across the top research labs in North America. Together with Element AI, Microsoft hopes to connect human and machine intelligence to fuel powerful solutions.

To date, Element AI investments include:

  • i3 Equity Partners – an investment vehicle dedicated to early-stage investments in Israeli IoT startups
  • Zipwhip – a SaaS provider that enables businesses to send and receive text messages on existing landline, VoIP and toll-free phone numbers
  • Paxata – a platform provider that enables business analysts with an enterprise-grade, self-service data preparation system
  • xAd – a location intelligence software company that helps marketers unlock opportunities in the 90% of retail transactions that are still completed offline
  • Dynamic Signal – a communications platform company that increases productivity and employee engagement with timely, relevant content across multiple channels and devices
  • Tact – a sales experience platform that transforms a salesperson’s connected device into an AI-powered smart assistant.


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