Microsoft has unveiled a collaborative venture with Mistral AI, a French AI startup, enhancing its foothold in the European AI sector.

This collaboration is designed to fuse foundational AI research with tangible applications, offering a streamlined pathway from theory to practice. Through this enduring partnership, set to last multiple years, Mistral AI gains entry to the robust AI infrastructure of Microsoft Azure.

This partnership will also aid Mistral in working on and deploying its next-generation cutting-edge large language models (LLMs). Just recently, the Paris-based AI startup unveiled Mistral Large, its most powerful AI model yet. This collaboration will unlock new commercial prospects for Mistral AI. Furthermore, this initiative will bolster Mistral’s foray into international markets and enhance its research capabilities.

According to Microsoft, the partnership between the two companies will focus on three key areas, a supercomputing infrastructure, scaling to market, and AI research and development. The former will bring Azure AI access to Mistral AI for training and inference workloads.

The scaling to market will involve using Models as a Service (MaaS) in Azure AI Studio and the Azure Machine Learning Model Catalog to bring Mistral’s AI premium models to customers.

Last but not least, through AI research and development, Microsoft and Mistral AI are set to develop bespoke models aimed at serving select clientele, particularly targeting workloads in the European public sector.

Mistral Large will initially only be available through Microsoft’s Azure AI and the Mistral AI platform.

The financial specifics of the partnership remain under wraps. Recently, Mistral AI secured a substantial investment of 450 million euros, reaching a valuation close to two billion dollars, with tech investment giant Andreessen Horowitz leading the round.

Despite this significant infusion, there remains a notable disparity in funding levels when compared to the US. OpenAI has garnered in excess of ten billion dollars solely from Microsoft, and Anthropic has attracted up to six billion dollars in investments from tech behemoths like Google and Amazon.

This investment offers Microsoft a prime opportunity to strengthen its foothold in the AI market across Europe. With its unique position as the sole distributor of OpenAI models on EU servers through the Azure cloud service, Microsoft has already secured a competitive edge in Europe’s AI industry.