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Funding for AI Start-ups Makes a Big Splash

Having founded a tech crowdfunding start-up in a previous life, I’ve always been a big proponent of creating new ways for young companies to obtain the funding  they need to  pursue their goals of innovation. Equity crowdfunding is the latest incarnation of crowdfunding, where donations are made in return for company stock rather than rewards (often pre-order products). I knew it was just a matter of time before I’d hear of something like the recent announcement of the launch of Cognitiv, a specialized crowdfunding campaign to create a $100 million fund focused on early-stage companies that leverage AI, deep-learning, IoT, robotics and digital manufacturing to become tomorrow’s category leaders. As of this writing, 72% of the $15 million goal amount (or $10,945,791) had been raised with a $100 million maximum.

Sponsored by OurCrowd, an Israel-based equity crowdfunding platform, Cognitiv is the 12th fund to launch for funding on OurCrowd’s platform and will give investors access to approximately 20 companies, with initial investments in EquityX, KolGene, and FreshKeep. Cognitiv is a direct result of the success OurCrowd First, the first fund entry by OurCrowd, raising approximately $12 million, closing in May 2016.

AI powered transformation is poised to disrupt and automate every sector in business – from healthcare and financial services to agriculture and manufacturing and could create the largest transfer of wealth in recorded history,” said Avi Reichental, General Partner at Cognitiv. “Having built successful businesses ourselves, we understand that what looked
impossible just yesterday, is fast becoming tomorrow’s reality. That is why we are seeding and scaling the very businesses that we believe are harnessing the power of cognitive technology to become tomorrow’s category leaders.”

Funding for AI start-ups has surged more than eight-fold since 2012, and entrepreneurs are rushing to capitalize on the cash that’s still sitting on the sidelines. Money is gravitating toward the area as tech giants such as Alphabet Inc. and Facebook Inc. acquire companies and push advancements. While the sector saw just $559 million in funding in 2012, it surged to almost $5 billion in 2016, according to data compiled by research firm CB Insights. The number of deals has also seen a substantial increase, rising from 150 to 698 in that same time frame. 2018 is poised to see the greatest levels of investment with a predicted 55% increase in cognitive/AI.

We are thrilled to partner with Cognitiv and once again work together with Eduardo, Yori and Avi to launch a fund that is at the intersection of tech disruption and wealth creation,” said Jon Medved, OurCrowd Founder & CEO. “This growth  from $12 million under management to a proposed new $100 million fund is reflective of the rapid and dramatic growth of the fund management business within the OurCrowd platform and underscores our expanding global reach and the  power and vibrancy of our unique ecosystem.”

OurCrowd First’s diverse portfolio represents multiple exponential tech sectors including Ag-Tech, 3D Printing and Digital Health. Companies include deep learning imaging company Zebra Medical Vision, Ag-Tech disruptors Taranis and Centaur, AI powered visual service provider TechSee and Ultrafast 3D printing company Nexa3D, and more. OurCrowd First invested alongside leading investors including Softbank, Khosla Ventures, Finistre, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, and Artis Ventures. Several of the portfolio’s seed investments have already converted into larger Series A rounds of significant size.

Daniel D. Gutierrez, Managing Editor & Resident Data Scientist – insideBIGDATA.com

 

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