South African Cortex Group has launched Cortex Ventures touted as Africa's first venture capitalist firm focused exclusively on AI.
In addition to finance, selected AI start-ups will also have access to Cortex Group's technical advisory, AI-application development capabilities and co-working space.
Dr Jacques Ludik, Cortex Group's Founder and chief executive officer said the VC company will focus on businesses, innovators, and entrepreneurs working with AI-based technologies - specifically those that are leveraging data science, machine learning or deep learning in their stack.
"The world of AI is recognising a global explosion of new companies seeking investment, and we intend to fill that gap – especially those seeking early stage funding, traditionally dubbed high risk by more traditional VCs and investment entities such as banks, angel or private investors," said Ludik.
The VC has invited AI-focused startups and scale-ups from across Africa to pitch to it directly via its Click-2-Pitch Challenge encompassing a Google form-based simple application process.
Lillian Barnard, Managing Director at Microsoft South Africa, noted that AI is critical as it brings immense opportunity.
"Microsoft's latest research, into the adoption of AI in business, shows that 37.8% of high-growth companies are actively implementing AI. As companies are relying more on AI, it is freeing up business leaders to focus on other activities."
According to Ludik, Africa can truly benefit from leveraging cutting-edge 4IR technologies and there is a need to identify the gaps to create an AI pipeline for growth.
"Investment funding plays a big role realising the latter, and we see collaboration with other VCs, incubators, accelerators, academia, industry and government as key to job creation and economic growth," he added.