Google Opens New Voice AI Startup Accelerator Program to Applicants
Google is launching a voice AI-focused track for the Google for Startups Accelerator program next year and has begun accepting applications from qualified young companies. The new program aims to find promising North American startups applying voice AI technology and boost their chances of success while giving Google a privileged place as a potential partner over rivals like Amazon or Apple.
Google for Startups Accelerator: Voice AI is a 10-week digital experience starting in March that combines workshops and mentoring on technical and entrepreneurial topics. After applications close on Jan. 28, Google will match founders from each of the 10 to 12 members of the cohort to an expert from the company who will advise you based on what they say is the greatest challenge a company faces at the moment. Google already offers around a dozen startup accelerator programs based on geography, as well as one for Black founders and one for women founders. The voice AI startup accelerator is only the second program built around a product theme, joining the existing indie games accelerator. The new cohort is specifically for startups in their earlier stages, with no more than seed or Series A funding and at least five employees.
“Voice AI startups play a key role in helping build and deliver innovative voice-enabled experiences to users. And, Google is committed to helping tech startups deliver high-impact solutions in the voice space,” Google’s head of U.S. startup developer ecosystem Jason Scott said in a statement. “As part of this Google for Startups Accelerator, selected startups will be paired with experts to help tackle the top technical challenges facing their startup. With an emphasis on product development and machine learning, founders will connect with voice technology and AI/ML experts from across Google to take their innovative solutions to the next level.”
The new track offers a different facet of Google’s accelerator, highlighting how the tech giant wants to extend its reach to the voice AI startup community. The program also shares some similarities with Alexa Next Stage, Amazon’s revamped version of the Alexa Accelerator program. Both last for three months and take place only online. But Alexa Next Stage has expanded beyond the early stage startups and went online-only in order to recruit globally, not just from North America. Amazon and Techstars run that program through the $200 million Alexa Fund. which invests up to $150,000 in each company and gives Techstars and the Alexa Fund participation rights in any future funding rounds. Google doesn’t explicitly cite any investment for participants, but it’s an easy leap from success in a Google accelerator to discussions of long-term investment.