The announcement on Tuesday is the latest sign of Alphabet's growing interest in AI, a futuristic technology that's also gaining significance at Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft. Axios reported on the new program in May, but the details were not yet public.
Gradient will invest in 10 to 15 deals this year and will typically commit $1 million to $8 million in each, said Anna Patterson, founder and managing director of the firm.
"If we're really going to help AI happen faster, we needed to be more involved in the community," said Patterson, who's spent about a decade at Google working on Android, search, advertising and AI. "That's why we decided to do this -- to spur innovation in the AI space."
But Gradient isn't just another Silicon Valley funding source for start-ups, or even a typical corporate venture capital group. Alphabet already has GV (formerly Google Ventures), which backs start-ups at all stages, and CapitalG (formerly Google Capital), which invests in later-stage companies.