OurCrowd to set up new $100m fund with focus on AI technologies

OurCrowd to set up new $100m fund with focus on AI technologies

Investors will gain access to some 20 companies, 75% of which will be Israeli or Israel-related

Robots working with headsets and monitors (PhonlamaiPhoto, iStock by Getty Images)
Robots working with headsets and monitors (PhonlamaiPhoto, iStock by Getty Images)

OurCrowd, a Jerusalem-based crowdfunding venture capital fund, announced Thursday the launch of Cognitiv, a $100 million fund to invest in early-stage companies in the field of artificial intelligence, deep-learning, IoT, robotics and digital manufacturing.

Avi Reichental, general partner, and former CEO of 3D Systems, will join entrepreneurs Eduardo Shoval and Yori Nelken in leading the fund.

“AI-powered transformation is poised to disrupt and automate every sector in business — from healthcare and financial services to agriculture and manufacturing,” said Avi Reichental in a statement.

The global equity investment in AI or cognitive-based technologies has been staggering, with $7 billion invested in 2017 and $1.7 billion spent during the fourth quarter alone, according to Yori Nelken.

OurCrowd’s Cognitiv partners: Eduardo Shoval, left, Avi Reichental, center, and Yori Nelken (Courtesy)

Artificial intelligence is only just taking off as a field, but is growing at a compounded annual rate of almost 63 percent since 2016 and is expected to be a $16 billion market by 2022, according to MarketsandMarkets, a research firm. In the coming year, artificial intelligence will make its way from centralized servers to our handheld devices and home gadgets, and will become a dominant force in all areas in which huge amounts of data are used, Israeli experts say.

“We strongly believe artificial intelligence has reached a significant tipping point and is positioned to change the world.  A new way of thinking about business is disembarking, and companies that leverage cognitive technologies in innovative ways will become category leaders,” said Nelken in a phone interview.

The fund will give investors access to some 20 companies, and 75% of the portfolio will be Israeli or Israel-related companies. Investors in the new fund are shaping out to be 50% from the US and Europe, and the remainder from Asia and Australia, Nelken said.

“The fund is looking at early stage companies that are using AI-based technologies across a variety of industries that we think are well positioned to disrupt existing markets and can become category leaders,” he said, naming EquityX, KolGene, and FreshKeep as examples of firms the fund has already invested in.

Cognitiv is the 12th fund to launch under OurCrowd, the most active equity crowdfunding platforms in Israel from 2012 to the first half of 2017, according to IVC Research Center, which tracks the local tech industry.

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