Niel invests €200m in AI
September 26, 2023
French billionaire businessman Xavier Niel is investing €200 million in AI, split between a future research lab to be located in Paris, cloud supercomputing capabilities powered by Nvidia Corp. hardware, and funding for startups.
The project hopes to lure top French AI engineers — who left to work for big tech firms — back to their home country, where they can build AI products to rival the likes of OpenAI, said Niel said in an interview quoted by Bloomberg.
“To influence the AI market, you need computing power. To have computing power, you need supercomputers. And to have supercomputers, you have to invest massively,” said Niel, who owns telco group Iliad..
Through its cloud computing subsidiary Scaleway, Iliad has been working in recent years to develop a European alternative cloud system to those offered by big US-based tech companies, Niel added. “By equipping it with a supercomputer, we want — and we can — create a European AI champion. It’s a question of sovereignty: to protect our data, we need platforms established on our territory.”