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Baidu Sets Up AI Venture Fund Amidst Intense Competition in China's AI Industry

Chinese tech titan, Baidu, pledges a 1 billion yuan ($145 million) venture fund to back AI content-generating startups, initiating a competitive race in China's AI domain.

Baidu's AI Push: $145M Venture Fund to Boost AI Startups.

Chinese tech powerhouse, Baidu, announced today its plan to create a 1 billion yuan ($145 million) venture fund aimed at bolstering startups focused on artificial intelligence (AI) content generation.

As reported by Reuters, Baidu will also commence a contest for developers capable of integrating the company's large language model (LLM), ERNIE, into their products or building applications using it.

Baidu's strategy appears reminiscent of OpenAI's approach, a notable American company that launched the OpenAI Startup Fund with $100 million in 2021, later expanding to $175 million.

However, Baidu and OpenAI are not alone in this race. Various companies are eager to financially support startups that could potentially be future clients or acquisition prospects. Google, for instance, is believed to be investing in Runway AI's latest funding round. Runway AI has gained attention for its software's ability to create images and videos from a brief textual description.

Chinese tech industry, similar to its American counterpart, is brimming with competition as leading firms strive for dominance in the rapidly growing sphere of generative AI.

Just a few days ago, Baidu's founder, Robin Li, announced the company's intention to launch a new version of its LLM, which powers Ernie Bot, a service similar to ChatGPT, first introduced in March.

Furthermore, Alibaba, another prominent Chinese tech company, revealed plans to integrate its own LLM, Tongyi Qianwen, across its businesses to elevate user experiences.

Tencent, too, is developing its own foundation model, HunyuanAide.

Even though these companies are trailing behind OpenAI's widely acclaimed ChatGPT chatbot, the Chinese government's ban on ChatGPT's usage since February might provide an opportunity for them to close the gap.