NYU Tandon School of Engineering announced the launch of New York City’s first accelerator focused on artificial intelligence computer technology. The AI Nexus Lab will allow the 5 early stage startups to access NYU’s academic resources, while also providing the marketing and business insight associated with Manhattan based venture capital firm ff Venture Capital.
“We’ve seen a number of artificial intelligence companies come through our various programs, and they’re very different from a typical startup,” said Steven Kuyan, NYU Tandon managing director of incubators and entrepreneurship. “They require a much larger traditional support structure.”
The program will provide intensive mentoring as well as access to three supercomputers; to faculty members who specialize in artificial intelligence, and to other companies in the incubator program that could make use of the startups’ technology. The companies, which will be recruited from around the world, will be applying AI technology to sectors related to the New York economy, including finance, healthcare and media and publishing. The goal is to graduate five viable AI companies at a time when the technology is increasingly in demand—and make New York a leader in the sector.
Venture capital financing for AI technology is still relatively small: $310 million globally in 2015, up from $45 million in 2010,according to CB Insights. But estimates for the market for AI related services—which range from voice recognition to insurance-rate calculations, to translation and help-desk services—top $23 billion over the next decade.
With the official title of NYU/ffVC AI NexusLab, the program will be housed in the newly renamed Data Future Lab.
(NYU’s two other incubators are also taking part in the rebranding: its Dumbo Incubator, for digital media, is now the Digital Future Lab; the NYC ACRE incubator in Brooklyn’s Metro Tech has become the Urban Future Lab, for clean tech and smart city startups.)
“There are a lot of businesses that could benefit from an AI layer,” said John Frankel, founding partner of ff Venture Capital, who has been developing the project with NYU over the past three months. “New York should be a hub for AI just as it’s a hub for fashion and finance and media and advertising.”
The program will put out a call for applications in September, and will choose the participants by early November. Their tenure will begin at the end of that month and last until the beginning of April.
Contrary to standard practice at traditional accelerators, there will be no demo day at the end. Instead NYU and ff Venture Capital will see what kind of support the companies need next, and how well the program is working.
“The field is very open,” said NYU Tandon Dean Katepalli Sreenivasan. “Many things are possible. We’ll see how far we go with this.”
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