Russia gears up for AI investment and regulation

IntelliNews, 30.05.2019

Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) raised $2bn from foreign investors to support domestic companies developing Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions, Vedomosti daily reports citing the report of RDIF prepared for the meeting with President Vladimir Putin on AI advancement in Russia.

As reported by bne IntelliNews, Russia seeks to boost start-up ecosystem, and country's traditional education emphasis on the hard sciences had helped many companies embrace technology. Russia is, for example, already a global force in fintech, according to a recent report, and actively supports nano-technology.

The funds for AI development were rasied from "partners from large sovereign funds and global corporations from Middle East and Asia," RDIF representatives told Vedomosti. To compare, RDIF manages $10bn of own funds and $40bn of co-investments. About 5-10 AI-related investments annually are now planned.

Analysts surveyed by the daily believe that $2bn is a large amount for nascent Russian AI market, but note that investment initially overshooting the market size was a normal practise. According to RDIF, its screened 100 Russian AI projects, and narrowed it down to 20 that are now being negotiated.

Among those are Oncobox, a start up that diagnoses and selects oncology treatments, and Motorica, developing functional prosthetics. Previous reports said that RDIF will also invest in VisionLabs face recognition technology, previously invested by Russia's largest bank Sberbank.

Notably, the meeting with Vladimir Putin will be held in Sberbank's coding school School 21, and the bank's CEO German Gref is the keynote speaker along with Deputy Prime Minister Maksim Akimov. Sberbank is at the forefront of Russian digital development, having adopted an ambitious digitally-driven strategy.

RBC business portal previously wrote that the agenda of the meeting will include introducing AI technologies in Russian economy, systems of state governance, industry and agriculture.