Micron Technology is planning to invest up to $100 million in start-up companies working on artificial intelligence (AI) technologies for use in self-driving vehicles, factory automation and other growing fields, Reuters reported.
The Idaho-based memory chip maker’s existing corporate venture capital program launched more than a decade ago did not work well.
Sumit Sadana, Micron’s chief business officer, said the existing venture operation’s returns have been solid, but the company believes it can ultimately sell more memory chips by expanding its involvement in artificial intelligence.
Micron did not disclose its previous investments in technology start-ups.
Micron said it will use the new funds to make investment in hardware and software start-ups working on artificial intelligence. Micron has an interest in investing in self-driving car technology, augmented and virtual reality, and the technology for automating factories, because the firm already has businesses in those areas.
Intel Corp’s venture capital arm has invested more than $1 billion in recent years in start-ups working on artificial intelligence, and Nvidia Corp runs a program to help several thousand small companies use its chips.
Micron said a fifth of its venture capital funding for start-ups will go to outfits led by women and other underrepresented groups. Micron also said its conference in San Francisco that the Micron Foundation, its non-profit arm, will provide $1 million fund for grants to universities and nonprofits doing artificial intelligence research.
The first three recipients for the grants were the Berkeley Artificial Intelligence Research Lab, the Stanford Precision Health and Integrated Diagnostics Center and AI4All, a non-profit that runs a summer camp aimed at underrepresented students in the field.