Google has launched a fund intended to support startups led by women in the Asia-Pacific region. This initiative, named the Google for Startups Women Founders Fund, targets a recognized gap in the business landscape where women in this region often face challenges.
About the Fund
The Google for Startups Women Founders Fund will allocate $100,000 in equity-free cash to six female-led startups in its inaugural year. The initial phase will target startups in India, Japan, and South Korea. Future plans indicate an expansion to other Asia-Pacific markets.
Overseeing the fund is Mike Kim, the Singapore-based Asia-Pacific head of Google for Startups. In a discussion with Forbes Asia, Kim highlighted the fund’s dual value: providing financial resources and offering startups a platform for global visibility.
Background and Emphasis on AI
The Google for Startups Women Founders Fund is a segment of the Google for Startups Founders Funds program, established in 2020. This program has a history of supporting underrepresented founders. The Women Founders Fund, in particular, has set its sights on the Asia region.
The current direction of the Women Founders Fund is the AI sector. The rationale is rooted in the importance of diverse representation in AI’s evolution. Mike Kim noted instances of AI systems displaying unintended biases, emphasizing the need for an inclusive approach to AI development.
Previous Engagements and Outcomes
Google’s engagement with female-led AI startups in Asia is not new. Past collaborations include backing for AI For Pet in Seoul, an enterprise focusing on using AI algorithms for pet health. Another is Tokyo’s Latona, which offers AI solutions and benefited from a mentorship program by Google for Startups.
Mike Kim also touched on the broader business perspective, indicating a positive trajectory for the overall internet ecosystem and subsequent use of Google’s products.
Applications for the Google for Startups Women Founders Fund are now open to startups from India, Japan, and South Korea, with the closing date set for 15 August 2023.