Vickers Venture, Sumitomo unit lead $6m round in AI-focused ICONTEK | #VentureCanvas
Aug 1, 2018
Kristie Neo | DealStreetAsia – VC
Singapore’s Vickers Venture Partners and Sumitomo Corporation Equity Asia, an arm of Japan’s Sumitomo Group, have invested in the $6-million Series A round in ICONTEK, a Toronto-based startup focused on natural language processing and artificial intelligence, according to a press release. The deal marks Vickers Venture’s third investment in the artificial intelligence space. Vickers Venture Partners expects the global machine learning market to generate over $8 billion in revenue by 2020. Vickers Venture Partners announced in October 2017 that they have raised $230 million to invest in startups across the world, with a particular focus on deep tech across the globe. Vickers’ portfolio spans across deep tech, media, telecommunications and life sciences. In June, Vickers announced that it led a $4.3-million interim round in SiSaf, a UK-based biopharma company. According to Dr. Jeffrey Chi, founding member of Vickers Venture Partners, ICONTEK was chosen because of their capabilities in developing AI without relying solely on big data. ICONTEK’s products are focused on seamless human-computer interactions with the help of natural language processing and machine learning. Grant Yu, CEO and founder of ICONTEK, shared that their technology was inspired by children in China learning the English language. “Traditional AI is like a written study. And the robot is taught in a similar fashion to the way a child is taught English at school. The difference is that our system can communicate in English without going to school. It naturally builds a model of oral understanding and constantly optimises and improves. This is the basic concept of natural intelligence,” said Yu.