The AI subsidiary of MTS, Russia’s largest telecoms operator, has launched a $100m venture capital fund.
Dubbed Intema, the fund will look to support AI startups developing technologies including natural language processing, edge computing, and warehouse optimization.
MTS’s AI Center will invest up to $20m in individual projects and companies, and run a startup accelerator that will invest up to $100,000 per project.
“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,” said Alexey Posternak, chief financial and investment officer at MTS.
Helping you get from here to there
MTS (Мобильные ТелеСистемы,) is the largest mobile network in Russia. Headquartered in Moscow, it also offers broadband, cable television, and local telephone services.
The company is owned by JSFC Sistema, a Russian conglomerate managed by Vladimir Yevtushenkov, a billionaire oligarch who has close ties to Saudi Arabia – notably co-chairing Russian-Arab Business Council meetings.
The new AI-centric VC fund will look to invest in firms in Asia, Europe, and North America.
Firms that manage to secure funding will gain access to its computing power to train neural networks, and the ability to conduct joint pilot projects.
Intema has already made its first bet – providing American AI chip manufacturer Kneron with $10m. The San Diego based firm also counts Li Ka-Shing’s Horizon Ventures, Qualcomm, Foxconn among its investors – having raised $90m to date.
Meanwhile, the MTS AI Center is seeking aspiring founders and early-stage entrepreneurs to apply for a three-month acceleration program, scheduled to begin in October.
Successful candidates will gain access to mentors comprising of entrepreneurs and executives who previously spent time at Samsung, Google, Intel, and Nvidia, MTS said.
“We are ready to support the rapid growth of promising teams and invest in both early-stage projects and more mature startups,” Posternak added.