The new program, says Google, is intended to help “push new ideas forward and advance the possibilities of what digital assistants can do.” The program is open to companies across diverse fields, including startups that are developing technologies that broaden the Google Assistant’s set of features, or that are building new hardware devices for digital assistants, or that focus on a particular industry such as travel, games, or hospitality.
The program will consist of several components:
- Investment capital from Google to provide additional financial resources for the development, hiring, and management of these startups.
- Advice from Google engineers, product managers, and design experts to share technical guidance and product development feedback.
- Google partnership programs that provide early access to upcoming features and tools so startups can bring their products to market as quickly as possible.
- Access to the Google Cloud Platform suite of cloud computing services that run on the same infrastructure that the company uses for products like Google Search and YouTube.
- Promotional support through Google marketing channels to drive greater awareness for the features and functionality of these new applications.
The company also shared a list of the program’s initial investments. These include AI-powered English learning service provider Edwin, chatbot company BotSociety, voice designer platform provider Pulse Labs, and GoMoment, which offers an active customer engagement solution for hotels.
The new program is similar to Amazon’s Alexa Fund, which was launched by the online retail giant in 2015 with an initial investment of up to $100 million. Aimed at making digital voice assistants more powerful for its users, the venture capital fund targeted developers, device-makers, and innovative companies of all sizes. Late last year, Amazon committed another $100 million to the fund for international expansion.
Google has not disclosed the amount of its current investments in the new fund, and has indicated no cap on the amount that can be invested overall. The program is separate from the company’s Gradient Ventures fund, an AI-focused venture capital fund that it launched last year.
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