Artificial intelligence ecosystem builder Skymind has unveiled the first cohort of investments from its $800 million AI fund, which backs promising new AI companies, training and academic research. 

The cohort comprise six start-ups which use the power of AI to disrupt and enhance the performance of different industries and sectors across the globe, from farming and medicine to policing and education. 

UK-registered firm Nexent is among the investments. Its solution, Dashboard.Nexent, converts raw data into actionable insights through extensive back-end AI automated data analytics.  

By bridging the gap between data and analytics, it can quantify historical data to show trends and forecast the future, informing business strategy and planning.   

Skymind says its senior team was largely confined to looking for talent in Malaysia, where it was based during COVID-19.  

However, a spokesperson said the future plan is to set up an accelerator in the UK and invest in local talent here and across Europe when freedom of travel is possible.

Shawn Tan, CEO of Skymind, added: “It’s important to understand what’s happening on the ground before you back a company. You need to meet the founders, understand the proposition – it’s this handson approach that is key.  

“Once lockdown lifts, we expect to expand our investment reach and look globally for talent – something that can only be achieved when business travel is possible again.   

“We know that talent comes from everywhere – and will be hunting for the best in 2021. We are excited by what 2021 will bring and look forward to meeting our next cohort and helping them to build, scale and monetise their ideas.” 

Also backed in the first cohort is, an AI marketplace which focuses on delivering non-invasive plug and play AI modules for businesses. 

Its technology was used as the primary UX interface for one of the most successful AI innovations last year: the launch of Axial AI. This AI software, developed by Skymind, provides solutions for multiple diseases analysis for hospitals and research facilities, and was used by medical teams around the world to diagnose patients with COVID-19 symptoms faster.  

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The other firms were Terra Sentinel, an AI consultancy which tackles the challenges of climate change and the environmentCertifAI, an AI education offering with the aim to empower society with practical AI capabilities; Farmetrix, which develops AI solutions for the agricultural sector; and Skyfense, an AI innovation to keep citizens safe and to improve policing.  

“Each firm is headed up by a disruptive and tenacious founder that is set on creating technology with the biggest social impact and getting their ideas to market as swiftly as possible,” said Tan. 

With our support we can achieve this because Skymind’s approach is totally different. We are a new type investor – one that is more focused on venture building than equity share.  

Skymind looks mainly at AI innovations that are good for society and not just their business value – and then we work closely with the entrepreneurs to bring their companies to market by supplying them with an entire suite of service support, from financial backing to corporate client introductions and talent acquisition.  

Companies know they have a true partner in us.”