What is AI2?
Founded in 2014 with the mission of conducting high-impact AI research and engineering—AI2 is the creation of Paul Allen (Microsoft co-founder) and is led by Dr. Oren Etzioni. AI2 employs over 250+ of the world's best scientific and engineering talent in the field of AI, attracting individuals of varied interests and backgrounds from across the globe.
What is the AI2 Incubator?
The AI2 Incubator creates AI-first tech startups. Each year, we bring together world-class engineers and successful entrepreneurs to create new companies together, from scratch. We help them come up with ideas, find co-founders, engage pilot customers, define product, incorporate the latest A.I. techniques into their technology, and raise millions of dollars in funding.
Why have you been successful thus far?
Startups incubated at AI2 are given an "unfair advantage" over other incubators or accelerators. Here, we work to help ensure that any project can achieve its goals with the most cutting-edge research and methodologies across NLP, CV, Deep Learning, and more. For an entrepreneur taking an AI-first product to market, this provides a major early edge.
How much financial support am I given?
We invest up to $500,000 per team to help entrepreneurs get started, and our VC relationships can help ensure many millions more when the time is right.
What does it cost to participate?
We are roughly the same price as Techstars and Y-Combinator—9% cofounder equity. However, unlike those programs, our incubator provides 12-months of support (not 12 weeks) and we only do 3-5 companies per year (not 300-500).
Do I need an idea in order to join?
No — you do not need to have an idea for an AI-first startup to apply. We are looking for smart people who are looking to build the companies of tomorrow using AI.
I don't have any experience starting a company, should I still apply?
Yes — we place technical founders (with or without AI experience) onto startup teams. We also place experienced entrepreneurs onto those same teams, ensuring that both sides of a startup have high quality people in the right roles.
What if I already have a team? Can we apply together?
Yes — but we work to evaluate each co-founder individually.
Do I have to live in Seattle?
No! In fact, over 50% of our founders do not live in Seattle. Through the power of Zoom, we've helped teams find cofounders, build product, raise money, and more—all from the comfort of your couch.
Do I need to participate full time?
Yes — we are committing to build a startup with you and working hard to help you succeed. And, we are dedicating significant time and resources here, far beyond just the cash investment. In return, during the time that we work together (and for 6-months after), we ask that you make a meaningful commitment to us.
What happens if I don't build a startup?
Entrepreneurs receive comprehensive feedback on a weekly basis for as much as 52+ weeks. But it doesn't always work out and you are not required to pay back the investment.
What got top firms like Sequoia and Kleiner interested in your new fund?
We strongly believe that the next wave of big companies created in the Seattle region will be AI-first companies. The AI2 Incubator is uniquely positioned to help those startups build big businesses and take their products to market.
Who owns my IP?
Until you incorporate a new company, we need a place to park ideas and code developed while you are part of the incubator program. AI2 holds the IP and transfers it to your new company when you incorporate. We also like this because it creates a clear record, so that when you go to raise money, you can clearly show that you have been careful about IP and own everything you need to own.
I'm still in school, how can I get involved?
Yes — you can apply for our Entrepreneurial Investigator program. We help CS undergrads, masters, and PhD students to create new startups (part time!) while enrolled in school. Participants pair with skilled CEOs and CTOs to turn AI technologies into exciting new products.
What types of market segments are you focused on?
We focus first and foremost on bringing in great entrepreneurs who have a knack for identifying big opportunities. These opportunities often live in large markets undergoing massive changes, with problems that cutting edge AI is uniquely capable of solving—including healthcare, energy, financial services, manufacturing, and more.