Nvidia Corp., a US gaming and computer graphics giant, said on Thursday it is planning to set up a research center in Israel that will focus on artificial intelligence.
The center will be led by Prof. Gal Chechik, a former senior official at Google’s AI division, the company said in a statement.
“Despite being a small country, Israel is a huge force in the artificial intelligence industry,” said Bill Dally, the chief scientist of Nvidia, as he announced the appointment at the firm’s developer conference in Tel Aviv, attended by some 2,800 developers, investors and entrepreneurs.
Dally said he was continually “amazed at the quality of the research, the researchers, and the market hunger for new ideas” he sees in Israel.
Chechik will be in charge of establishing a research division in Israel and will recruit a team of researchers specializing in artificial intelligence. He joined Google in 2007 and was previously an affiliate at the Stanford AI lab. He is also a faculty member at the Interdisciplinary Center for Brain Research at Bar-Ilan University.
Nvidia intends to significantly expand its team of deep learning engineers in Israel and recruit another 20 employees to its existing R&D center in Tel Aviv, the company said in a statement. The new center will focus on pure AI research, the company said.
“Artificial intelligence is a very significant technological force in the time we live,” Chechik said in the statement. “Israel has exceptional human capital that makes it a major player for Nvidia worldwide.”
Nvidia has been active in Israel for the past eight years, both selling its processors locally and buying stakes in startups and setting up the R&D unit. The company has invested some “tens of millions of dollars” in three startups over the past five years: Zebra Medical, the maker of a medical imaging insight software using artificial intelligence; Deep Instinct, which uses deep learning to predict cyber-threats; and Rocketick, a simulation and chip testing company which was then bought by Cadence in 2016 for a reported $40 million.