Above: Bulba Ventures founders: Yury Melnichek and Andrei Avsievich News emerged last summer that Google had snapped up computer vision startup AIMatter, the Belarusian company behind the popular funky photo-effects app Fabby. While Fabby continues today under Google’s guidance, the app was really a public-facing showcase for AIMatter’s underlying technology, which is basically a neural network-powered platform and SDK for detecting and processing images.

And that is what Google was really buying into as it battles it out with other major technology companies to secure the most promising AI brain power. The acquisition further highlights the burgeoning computer vision startup scene in Eastern Europe, which saw Facebook acquire Belarusian startup Masquerade; Snapchat snap up Looksery, which has Ukrainian roots; and Russia’s Prisma gain widespread attention for its computer vision-powered art photo app.

Nearly one year after AIMatter’s sale to Google, VentureBeat caught up with Yury Melnichek, the Belarusian serial entrepreneur who was a founding investor in AIMatter and who previously worked as a software engineer at Google and eBay. Melnichek also cofounded Maps.me, a mobile map service that was acquired by Russian tech titan Mail.ru back in 2014.

Earlier this year, Melnichek launched a new investment vehicle called Bulba Ventures, in conjunction with business partner Andrei Avsievich. Bulba’s focus is on investing between $100,000 and $500,000 in machine learning startups in Belarus, though the firm’s reach may extend into surrounding regions, such as Russia and Ukraine.

Bulba also promises startups in its portfolio a number of free add-on services, including recruitment expertise, public relations, and legal advice. “[Our goal is to] help machine learning startups improve people’s lives, especially in areas like health, agriculture, and longevity,” Melnichek told VentureBeat. Read more from venturebeat.com…

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