Cisco’s global corporate venture investment division Cisco Investments has unveiled a new $1bn fund to invest in artificial intelligence (AI) startups.  

The initiative aims to support the AI startup ecosystem and foster the development of reliable and secure AI solutions.  

As part of the new AI fund, the company has made initial strategic investments in several specialist AI companies, including Mistral AI, Cohere, and Scale AI

This move is part of Cisco’s ongoing efforts to advance its AI innovation strategy and enhance customers’ AI readiness. 

Cohere, headquartered in Toronto and San Francisco, specialises in security-focused frontier large language models and retrieval-augmented generation capabilities designed for enterprise needs.  

France-based Mistral AI focuses on generative AI (GenAI), developing new models for businesses that combine scientific expertise with a responsible approach to the new technology. 

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Meanwhile, US-based Scale AI offers a data-centric platform that supports training and validation for AI applications.  

In addition, Cisco has recently become the largest strategic investor in Scale AI’s Series F funding round.  

So far, the company has committed around $200m out of the $1bn investment fund. 

Over the past few years, Cisco stated that it has completed more than 20 AI-focused investments and acquisitions, enhancing GenAI and machine learning capabilities as well as implementation of AI across its product portfolio.  

Furthermore, the company plans to engage in product collaborations with AI companies to co-innovate, while sustaining its position as an agnostic provider in the AI space. This approach offers more options and coverage for Cisco’s extensive global customer base. 

Cisco chief strategy officer Mark Patterson said: “For more than 30 years, Cisco Investments has invested and partnered with hundreds of companies to drive innovation both within Cisco’s core markets and in new strategic areas. Our recent investments in generative AI companies align perfectly with this long-standing strategy.”