Artificial intelligence (AI) firm iKVA, founded at the University of Cambridge, has raised £1.5 million in seed funding to help roll out their technology. The new funding is in addition to pre-seed funding of £175,000 raised in 2018. The funding has been secured from Cambridge Enterprise, part of the University, and Crowdcube.
Formerly doing business as Kvasir Analytics, iKVA was founded in 2017 by academics from the university’s Department of Computer Science and Technology and the Alan Turing Institute. iKVA emerged from a research project led by Dr. Liang Wang, computer scientist Professor Richard Mortier and Professor Jon Crowcroft who is also affiliated with the renowned Alan Turing Institute.
According to the company, iKVA’s technology is designed for knowledge-intensive, multinational firms and was developed with input from the BBC, the Home Office and others in a process that has helped to influence its design. The technology is already in use by global engineering giant Mott MacDonald. The market for AI technology is expected to boom growing to $500 billion by 2024.
iKVA’s service works by pulling together unstructured data from multiple internal and external sources including rich documents, images, video, and chat, to provide accurate knowledge to the user in real-time as part of their regular workflow. The service is said to be particularly suited for big firms working across disperse locations and platforms.
The CEO of iKVA is Cambridge-based Jon Horden who previously held senior roles at Monster.com, British Gas’s digital division ‘Local Heroes’ and HomeServe. Horden is joined on the management team by the co-founders, Dr Chris Doran and tech product specialist Ian Firth.
Horden said that having the ability to surface internal knowledge blended with external sources is now a major priority for large organisations that employ thousands of staff using multiple platforms:
“iKVA enables people to instantly access this knowledge and helps them work smarter and faster. iKVA expands the pool of knowledge within an organisation and enables people to get intelligence and information faster and more accurately in real time, as they are working. The unique way that iKVA collates and presents knowledge means it’s perfectly scalable and easily adaptable to bolt-on to existing infrastructure and other software platforms and that’s what investors and the marketplace can already see at this early stage in our development.”
Horden said they are on a mission to make certain there are “no unknowns” in big firms.
James Thomas, Senior Investment Associate at Cambridge Enterprise, said they are always pleased when they see research turn into commercial operations. Thomas said the iKVA is a good example of a venture that is perfectly timed as companies are investing in AI.
Jon Rains, Investment Director at Mott MacDonald Ventures, added:
“20-30% of our time is spent searching for information. Using a solution like iKVA represents a productivity saving of around $2m a year and we’ve seen the practical and commercial benefits. As an early adopter of the technology, we’re pleased to see iKVA receive this investment to continue the good work it’s done so far in making a positive impact on our people and practices.”
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