AI2 Incubator scores $200M in compute to feed needy AI startups

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AI2 Incubator, spun out of the Allen Institute for AI in 2022, has secured a windfall $200 million in compute that startups going through its program can take advantage of to accelerate early development.

“Our community of hundreds of AI practitioners are desperate for compute,” said managing director Jacob Colker. “A lot of these startups are hampered in their ability to put points on the scoreboard, show early traction, because they don’t have the resources to train models beyond the generic API options out there.”

Any company in the AI2 Incubator portfolio or program may receive up to $1 million worth of dedicated AI-style compute at data centers owned by a shadowy partner Colker would not name. (But the list of companies with $200 million of capacity to spare is fairly short.)

That partner doesn’t get any special treatment or access to the companies, by the way, except the fundamental one of likely being the first major compute provider a startup uses.

“There’s just a broad amount of goodwill to get these entrepreneurs to revenue faster,” Colker explained.

A million dollars of dedicated compute goes a long way for pre-seed startups, which is where AI2 focuses (we’ve covered WellSaid Labs, Xnor.ai, and others from their program).

Colker suggested it would cover most compute needs even for companies developing new foundation models.

“Different companies have different needs, but this isn’t just cloud credits — we have dedicated machines and custom silicon. This is the single biggest computer allocation available to startups today that we know of.”

The AI2 Incubator has been operating since 2017 but only went independent in 2022, enjoying a friendly relationship but formally distinct existence apart form the Seattle research institute. They’ve helped build more than 30 startups and last year raised a $30 million fund to continue the work.

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