Today, Samsung NEXT, a division working to “transform” the company by “working with entrepreneurs and innovators to build, grow and scale software and services, announced it is running a new fund focused on AI: the Samsung NEXT Q Fund.
Samsung NEXT began as the Samsung Global Innovation Center in 2013, hoping to help its parent company discover new technologies and improve its business by investing in emerging startups. Since then, the group has invested in at least 92 startups ranging in category from education to security to health, according to its website.
The group has seen 12 exits, according to Crunchbase. Those exits included nuTonomy, a company which develops software for autonomous vehicles. The firm participated in nuTonomy’s $16 million Series A in May 2016 before the self-driving car company was sold to Delphi Automotive in October 2017 for $450 million.
In January 2017, Samsung NEXT launched the $150 million Samsung NEXT Fund to invest in young tech startups working in categories like machine learning and AI, the internet of things, and virtual reality. In May, the group invested in Virtru, a cybersecurity company based in Washington D.C. focused on end-to-end encryption. Its most recent lead investment was a seed round for a San Francisco-based company called Converge, an AI-powered drone startup.
While the company has invested in AI-focused startups in the past, its next fund will focus specifically on companies developing AI-first platforms and technologies. One startup that earned the group’s investment as a “forward thinking” AI company is Covariant AI, a robotics company founded by former OpenAI researchers that uses AI to power complex skill-acquiring robots.
“We prefer novel techniques over solutions that ‘Import AI,’” the group said in its press release.