Cortex Group launches Africa’s first AI only focused venture capital company

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The Cortex Group has launches Cortex Ventures and Click-2-Pitch Challenge, Africa’s first artificial intelligence (AI) only focused venture capital company.

The Cortex Group (Pty) Ltd is an Artificial Intelligence (AI) focused holding company, building value in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4.0 IR) Economy on a local, regional and global scale – home to the already successful Cortex Logic, an African Artificial Intelligence (AI) software and solutions company that helps businesses thrive in the smart technology era. Cortex Ventures will serve as Africa’s one-stop-shop for AI-focused start-ups and scale-ups seeking early or growth stage funding – coupled with the unique opportunity to tap into the Cortex Group’s technical advisory, AI-application development capabilities and co-working space.

Dr Jacques Ludik, Cortex Group Founder and CEO (Recipient of the AI Leader of the Year 2019 Award) said: “ The AI play is so large, that we decided it would be beneficial to create a Venture Capital company focusing on companies, innovators, and entrepreneurs working with AI-based technologies – specifically leveraging Data Science, Machine Learning or Deep Learning in their stack. The world of AI is recognizing 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”.

Fellow entrepreneur, 20-year tech veteran, Cortex Group CMO, and Cortex Ventures spearhead, Dr Nick Bradshaw stated: “There has never been a better time to be a tech entrepreneur in the AI space. Things that could only be dreamt of two or three years ago, are now possible – access to free and cost-effective resources via open source, APIs and cloud providers such as Microsoft, AWS, Google and IBM are propelling these possibilities. As a VC, focusing on both early and growth stage businesses, we are supplementing traditional support VCs offer with unique access to AI Developers and Data Scientists, product advisory services, and a FREE co-working space. This will allow us to remain close to and continuously guide the companies and partners we are working with, ultimately ensuring their success”.

Lillian Barnard, Managing Director at Microsoft South Africa, said “Embracing AI in South Africa is critical as it brings immense opportunity, and we anticipate it to be one of the most disruptive technologies in human history. Microsoft’s latest research, into the adoption of AI in business, shows that 37.8% of high-growth companies are actively implementing AI. It’s great to see new players like the Cortex Group and Cortex Ventures helping clients shift toward digital transformation and creating new opportunities for the companies of tomorrow. As companies are relying more on AI, it is freeing up business leaders to focus on other activities. Realizing the true benefit of AI is not simply about being fast adopters of innovative technology. Every company needs to think of itself as a digital company”.

James Milne (Head of Investment Promotion at Wesgro) and Zimkhita Buwa (Chief Operating Officer at Britehouse), both serving on the Board of The Silicon Cape, South Africa stated, “Cortex Ventures will add significantly to the tech landscape in South Africa, and more broadly Africa, and we applaud what the team at the Cortex Group are doing to create inclusive, earlier stage funding opportunities in the Artificial Intelligence sector, both locally and nationally”.

Dr Ludik added, “Africa can truly benefit from leveraging cutting-edge Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies and, we, as a community need to identify the gaps to create an AI pipeline for growth. Investment funding plays a big role realizing the latter, and we see collaboration with other VCs, incubators, accelerators, academia, industry and government as key to job creation and economic growth. Cortex Ventures will play a crucial role in helping shape a better future for all”.

Dr Bradshaw concluded: “As a call-to-action, we invite AI-focused start-ups and scale-ups to take part in our “Click-2- Pitch Challenge”. It encompasses a very simple application process, inviting candidate companies to submit and join our investment and advice program. Applying is free of charge and will be reviewed by our investment team, which could lead to the opportunity to pitch for investment. Whether you are at pre-MVP, MVP, pre-revenue or post-revenue stage – we review all proposals and advise accordingly. Screening is currently active, and we welcome all submissions from across the African continent.

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