Singapore-based global VC firm Vickers Venture Partners, along with Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation Equity Asia, an arm of the Sumitomo Group, has inducted US$6 million into Canadian company Icontek, which creates Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning systems.
Ontario-based Icontek’s products allow interactions between users, machines and systems and are useful in the customer service industry. Its mission is to deliver enterprise-friendly solutions that lower costs for businesses, while preserving a fluid user experience based on Natural Intelligence (NI) technology.
Founder and CEO of Icontek, Grant Yu, said his inspiration was drawn from children in China learning English. “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 NI.”
“Working with a leading company such as Icontek seems like a natural partnership for us given that their work in the field of AI and our vision are in alignment. We specifically chose Icontek because of their natural intelligence capabilities to develop AI without solely relying on Big Data, which is something that is a step above the rest,” said Jeffrey Chi, Founding Member of Vickers Venture Partners and Vice Chairman of Asia Investment Board.
Vickers Venture Partners is focused on early-stage investments in Asia and beyond. The firm’s portfolio covers life sciences, technology, media, and telecommunications as well as consumer and financial services.
The total market value of the companies that the partners have helped grow exceeds US$90 billion today. Vickers Venture Partners announced in October 2017 that they have raised US$230 million to invest in startups across the world, with a particular focus on deep-tech across the globe and impact investments in emerging markets.
Vickers Venture Partners was founded in 2005 by Finian Tan, Khalil Binebine, Jeffrey Chi, Damian Tan, and Linda Li. It is based in Singapore with offices in Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, Hong Kong, New York, San Diego with an office opening in San Francisco in 2018.