Local investment in Artificial Intelligence companies has plummeted in Australia this year even though the global average increased. A new investment program looks to bring Australia back up to speed by targeting AI scale ups.

Australia’s first AI investment program Boab AI says data from Pitchbook shows total Australian venture capital investment in AI companies fell by 82 per cent in the second quarter compared with the same period last year, down from $22m to $4m.

But elsewhere AI technology is still a popular investment, up half a billion dollars or 19 per cent globally.

Andrew Lai, the newly appointed Managing Director of AI scale up investment program Boab AI, says he expects investors will return to the Australian market.

“Markets will fluctuate over time, but the productivity gains from AI are real and recent advances in AI technology have shown that we’re only at the beginning of what’s possible.” 

Boab AI launched in May this year through a $1.5 million grant from the Victorian government and $8 million in investment funding from investment management firm Artesian. Boab directors include  Dr Catriona Wallace, Founder and CEO of Ethical AI Advisory, Rosyln Hames COO of Clear Dynamic, as well as two Atresian managing partners.

Boab AI has launched a public call for AI scale ups to apply for its investment program which offers up to $300,000 in equity investment and a six-month package of services.

The program has been specifically designed to address declining investments in early stage companies. 

Lai says driving AI in australia will take a collaborative approach.

“As much as we’re addressing the gap in funding for AI, we also need eligible companies to apply and then corporations and institutions to give them a chance to prove the efficacy of their product.”

Artesian CEO Jeremy Colless, believes that AI will be an important part of Australia’s future in the region.

“We’ve invested heavily in verticals such as agtech and clean energy, however AI is interesting in that it has applications across all industries. If the Australian economy is to remain competitive, we need the local capability to create new AI driven innovations that help to generate economic advantage,” says Colless.

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