MTS Artificial Intelligence Center to Invest in Edge AI Chip Developer Kneron

MTS announces that the company’s wholly-owned subsidiary MTS Artificial Intelligence Center Limited Liability Company (“MTS AI”) has signed a definitive agreement to invest around USD 10 mln in the startup Kneron, an AI chip developer. The investment will enable MTS AI to receive exclusive distribution rights in Russia for Kneron chips as well as move toward creating its own line of AI-ready products leveraging Kneron’s technology.

Kneron’s state-of-the-art AI chips target edge use cases across a wide variety of smart devices — from video cameras and virtual assistants to biometric locks. The chips can locally process advanced AI algorithms, which can be faster and more cost-effective than traditional cloud-based solutions. Potential real-world applications include self-driving cars, intelligent video systems, IoT sensors, industrial robots, as well as drones and UAVs. The first MTS AI products featuring Kneron technology, including AI-ready systems-on-a-chip (SoC), are expected in around one year.

“Today, the world is facing a global AI chip shortage and there are only a handful of companies that produce them. According to our estimates, looking ahead we expect the global AI chip market to grow around 25% annually, which makes Kneron a particularly attractive investment. Moreover, improving access to cutting-edge processors will enable us to speed up the development of AI-based products for the local market,” commented Alexander Khanin, Head of the MTS AI Center. “Going forward, we plan to continue investing in promising AI-focused teams and technologies as part of our venture fund, corporate accelerator, and venture studio."

The MTS AI Center’s strategy also provides for the establishment of an advisory board — to include leading global experts — as well as foreign hubs aimed at strengthening international cooperation and the import and export of AI-based products.

The Kneron group of companies is a high-tech developer and seller of hardware and software to run AI applications for smart devices at high speed and energy efficiency. The startup was founded in 2015 by engineers from leading microelectronics companies, including Qualcomm and Samsung. Kneron holds patents across its hardware and software solutions, including in chip design and compression algorithms.

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