MTS steps into AI with $100m fund and accelerator scheme

13 September 2021 | Melanie Mingas

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Russia's MTS has a new subsidiary following the launch of MTS AI Center, a $100 million AI scheme intended to spearhead the development and commercialisation of AI solutions and start-ups across Asia, Europe and North America.

Over a three-year period, MTS AI Center will invest more than $100 million in AI start-ups via a venture fund and accelerator platform, Intelligent Machines (Intema), that will plough up to $20 million into individual projects and companies, backing start-ups at the late seed stage, as well as series A and B.

In addition the start-up accelerator will invest up to $100,000 per project for aspiring founders and early-stage entrepreneurs. This will enable MTS AI to support AI firms at both established and early stages of their growth journeys, covering AI start-up development from idea phase companies to mature projects with a business model and product.

In addition to the funds, successful participants will gain access to the computing power necessary for the high-quality training of neural networks and the opportunity to conduct a pilot project jointly with the Center.

The start-ups and projects will be identified by MTS AI’s scouts, which will also help them scale.

Alexey Posternak, chief financial and investment officer, member of the BoD MTS AI Center, said: “We are delighted that the MTS AI VC fund and accelerator will support promising teams around the world and help developers of AI-based solutions to bring their products to a new level.

"The guiding vision for MTS Artificial Intelligence Center is to establish itself as an AI institute, with deep technical expertise, boosting the capabilities of its investee firms to bring new products to the market. The field of AI services has huge, transformative potential and our full-cycle platform will enhance our position in this dynamic global market by fostering innovation and seeding a diverse network of cutting-edge AI businesses. We are ready to support the rapid growth of promising teams and invest in both early-stage projects and more mature start-ups.”

The fund has made a maiden investment of $10 million in to Kneron, a manufacturer of AI microchips used for accelerated and energy-efficient processing of AI algorithms and related software.