Clear Ventures unveils new AI-focused investment initiative

Clear Ventures has launched a new investment initiative to fund and support AI startups emerging from academic research institutions.

Clear Ventures has launched a new investment initiative to fund and support AI startups emerging from academic research institutions. Vijay Reddy, a new partner at Clear, will lead the initiative.

PRESS RELEASE

PALO ALTO, Calif. – December 9, 2021 – Today Clear Ventures announced a new investment initiative to fund and support AI startups emerging from academic research institutions. The new initiative leverages Clear’s innovative CLEAR EDGE approach, bringing capital, resources and network to AI startups, which are backed by years of scientific research at top institutions.

Founded by Chris Rust and Rajeev Madhavan, who collectively founded 5 successful startups and invested in more than 60 companies, including 8 IPOs and 26 acquisitions from 36 exits, Clear focuses on early-stage Enterprise IT companies, thus many are aimed at the convergence of artificial intelligence (AI) and deep domain or functional expertise.
CLEAR EDGE creates a new channel and structure for research-based founders wanting a streamlined way to productize and supercharge go-to-market plans for their IP. It also furthers Clear’s growth and expansion into AI + X, or AI applied to a specific industry or function, leveraging the breakthrough research now taking place at universities seen as crucibles of innovation.

Leading this new channel is Clear’s newest partner, Vijay Reddy, who brings to the company a successful track record of investing in startups that have emerged from academia. These include SambaNova Systems, Matroid and Landing AI, all founded by faculty from Stanford University; Lilt and Opaque, originating from UC Berkeley, Katana Graph, started at UT Austin; and others from MIT, UCLA and University of Michigan.

“Pushing the boundaries of innovation is what motivates us,” said Keshav Pingali, CEO and co-founder at Katana Graph. “It’s truly rewarding intellectually to be able to push the envelope in a research setting and at the same time be able to solve big problems that others have failed to tackle. Cutting-edge research and scientific investigation are at the core of our relentless pursuit of solutions to real-world problems. But we’re not operating in a silo – the convergence of research and industry is an emerging trend that is quickly gaining mainstream adoption.”

As a former PhD student, I was drawn towards applied research and my PhD grant was partly funded through a collaboration with the industry,” said Vijay Reddy, partner at Clear Ventures. “I dropped out of the PhD program to commercialize research and wished there were structured programs to solicit industry feedback, which would have saved us years of effort.”

“University-based founders have access to a rich talent pool that is not easy to replicate in non-research settings, offering what many would say is an unfair advantage,” said Rishabh Poddar, CEO of Opaque Systems. “We’ve seen the benefits of this in the development of our solution for commercializing the Open Source MC2 Platform, which has been adopted by several top institutions such as IBM, Scotiabank and Ericsson. Built upon years of research at UC Berkeley, our solution offers a powerful combination of secure hardware enclaves and cryptographic fortification to ensure that the overall computation is secure, fast and scalable.”

“We’re excited to launch CLEAR EDGE for researchers, which is going to make a meaningful difference for academic startup founders, many of whom had previously thought it was cost-prohibitive to bring their solutions to market,” added Vijay Reddy, partner at Clear Ventures. “Not surprisingly, many state-of-the-art benchmarks are coming from academia, despite the lack of access to traditional resources that larger companies have. It is a natural progression that the next generation of AI+X companies will increasingly emerge from research-oriented founders with ideas that may even be a bit contrarian.”

“While some research is far into the future, in the areas of AI+X we see that the gap between research and what can have real-world impact, is a lot narrower and much more within reach for investors and businesses,” said Rajeev Madhavan, founder and General Partner at Clear Ventures. “As former entrepreneurs, we have this understanding deeply ingrained into our DNA. With that said, Clear looks forward to bringing CLEAR EDGE to research-based startups, marrying a practical approach with years of scientific rigor to efficiently harness the growth we are seeing at the intersection of AI, frontier technology and research.”

About Clear
With $330 million of capital from a world-class investor base, Clear is a Silicon Valley venture capital firm that is purpose-built to help startup teams win in frontier technology and services. Founded by veteran company builders and venture investors Chris Rust and Rajeev Madhavan, formerly of Sequoia Capital and USVP and founders of five successful companies, Clear provides early capital, connections, and company-building insights to bold startup teams so their ideas can grow into market-leading companies. More at Clear online at www.clear.ventures.