Tue, May 21, 2019 - Page 10 News List

Tencent among AI start-up backers

Bloomberg

Prowler.io, an artificial intelligence (AI) company based in Cambridge, England, has been valued at US$100 million following a funding round involving a group of investors that includes Chinese technology giant Tencent Holdings Ltd (騰訊) and Pearson PLC.

Prowler uses AI to help businesses make decisions about everything from rebalancing financial portfolios to managing supply chains and logistics, it said in a statement yesterday.

Prowler said that it is receiving US$24 million in new funding.

Tencent led the investment round with participation from Pearson and others including Amadeus Capital Partners, Atlantic Bridge, Cambridge Innovation Capital, Mandatum Life, Passion Capital, RB Capital and Singapore Innovate, Prowler said.

The AI company said it would use the money to launch products and move into new industry areas, including education.

It described some of the participants in the current funding round as “strategic investors,” declining to specify which of the firms it viewed in this way.

Pearson is an education company, while Mandatum Life, a Finnish assets manager and insurance firm, has used Prowler’s software previously.

Ling Ge (葛凌), Tencent’s chief European representative, said in a statement that the Chinese company is “looking forward to Prowler.io applying its AI decision platform to a broadening range of customers, potentially including some of Tencent’s affiliate companies.”

Prowler’s focus on data-efficient learning methods and “human-machine teaming” set it apart from other AI companies, Ge said.

The company’s AI decisionmaking platform, which it calls VUKU, has been used by other Nordic asset managers to do risk modeling and portfolio optimization, and also by Barcelona-based delivery start-up Paack to plan optimal routes for its drivers.

“This investment is a huge sign of confidence in our efforts,” Prowler cofounder and chief executive officer Vishal Chatrath said in the statement.

Chatrath and one of the company’s other three cofounders, chief technology officer Dongho Kim, are veterans of VocalIQ, a Cambridge-based speech technology company that Apple Inc acquired in 2015 just 13 months after it was founded and whose technology Apple is believed to have used to enhance its Siri digital assistant.

Founded in 2016, Prowler has 110 employees.

The company had previously raised US$15 million in venture capital.

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