US tech giant Nvidia, which designs graphics processing units for gaming markets and chip units for mobile computing and automotive software, said they will open an artificial intelligence research center in Israel, the company announced Thursday.
The center will be lead by Prof. Gal Chechik, a former senior executive at Google’s AI division, and a member of the Gonda Multidisciplinary Brain Research Center at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University. Chechik will manage the center and establish its research division, recruiting at least 10 AI experts in the first stage.
“Despite being a small country, Israel is a huge force in the artificial intelligence industry,” said Bill Dally, the chief scientist of Nvidia currently leading Nvidia’s international research center of over 200 researchers, when he announced the news at Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conference (GTC) in Tel Aviv last week. He also said he was impressed by the quality of the research and the market hungry for new ideas in Israel.
Additionally, Nvidia plans to expand its team of deep learning engineers in Israel by recruiting 20 more employees at its R&D center in Tel Aviv, which it first launched a year ago.
“Nvidia is a leading player in artificial intelligence in the world and I am happy to establish in Israel a research team that will take part in groundbreaking efforts,” Chechik said, “Artificial intelligence is a very significant technological force in the time we live. Israel has exceptional human capital that makes it a major player for NVIDIA Worldwide.”
Tel Aviv’s GPU Technology Conference was Nvidia’s third in over a month. The second annual GTC Israel had 2,800 attendees, including developers, investors, entrepreneurs, and high-tech workers.
During the event, Nvidia gave out an Inception award, which is part of its Inception program for AI startups who want to learn form deep learning experts while presenting their own innovative tech and ideas.
The winner of the award was TheWhollySee, a Haifa-based startup developing deep learning and artificial intelligence training data for autonomous vehicles. The company, which received a $100,000 grant and an Nvidia DGX Station personal AI supercomputer, has just two full-time employees and two part-time employees.
Founder Dan Yanson said the prize money will help transfer those two part-time employees to full time. “What makes this win special is that the judges recognized the value and potential in us, even though we are a small company,” he explained, “The prize money will give us a big push but the DGX workstation will lead to significant acceleration and dramatic impact on our activity.”
TheWhollySee competed against seven other Israeli startups from sectors like health, agriculture, retail, and eSport with each presenting their company for five minutes before being asked to answer questions from four judges headed by Nvidia Vice President of Business Development Jeff Herbst. Companies included eSports mobile platform Blink; AI and big data-powered cancer diagnosis company IBEX Medical Analytics; Tevel Aerobotics, developing autonomous airborne drones for agriculture; speech tech company Voiceitt, helping stroke victims and those with disabilities translate their speech; roadway optimization and traffic data company WayCare; in-car software company Jungo Connectivity; and AI-powered, self-checkout shopping cart TRACXPOiNT.