CI NEWS

VentureClash Announces Winners of $5 Million Global Investment Challenge

Israeli-based Voiceitt, making speech recognition technology available to everyone, wins top investment of $1.5 million

ROCKY HILL, Conn., October 22, 2018 – Connecticut Innovations (CI), the leading source of financing and ongoing support for Connecticut’s innovative, growing companies, today announced the winners of VentureClash, $5 million global investment challenge for early-stage companies in digital health, financial technology, insurance technology and the Internet of Things. The final pitch event was held on Thursday, October 18, at the Yale School of Management in New Haven.

In all, nine companies from six different countries participated in the final pitch event. VentureClash judges awarded six companies with investments, mentoring and customer introductions to help them grow and succeed.

The winning companies are required to establish a presence in Connecticut.

Voiceitt received the top investment award of $1.5 million. Based in Israel, Voiceitt is developing the world’s first speech recognition technology designed to understand non-standard speech and help restore communication channels for a combined 10.4 million people in the United States and Europe who suffer from speech disabilities.

Two second-place winners were each awarded a $1 million investment:

  • DOZR: A Canadian company that has developed a marketplace for the online rental of heavy equipment, enabling business owners to earn additional revenue from their idle equipment and allowing contractors to rent equipment at lower rates than traditional rental companies.
  • IronYun: A Stamford-based next-generation, AI deep-learning, big-data video search business-to-business software company providing enterprise customers with hyper-converged, private cloud computing and big-data video software products.

Three additional finalists were selected to each receive a $500,000 investment award:

  • CloudKPI: An Irish company developing an insight engine that enables SaaS businesses to predict likely outcomes.
  • Invixium: A Canadian manufacturer of modern biometric solutions for markets needing strong user authentication, convenience and data analytics.
  • Paygilant: An Israeli technology company working to prevent mobile payments fraud on mobile devices in the preauthorization phase.

The other finalists were:

  • Kasko: A London-based digital insurance intermediary bridging the gap between the digital and insurance economies.
  • Panoply: An Israeli startup developing a smart data warehouse, using machine learning and natural language processing to automate data integration, data management and query optimization.
  • SnapSwap: A Luxembourg-based company offering white-label end-to-end know-your-customer (KYC) services for financial institutions and businesses.

“The VentureClash competition continues to introduce some of the world’s most innovative and promising early-stage companies to all that Connecticut has to offer,” said Matt McCooe, CEO of CI. “From the initial application period through to the finals, we were so impressed with the caliber of leadership and the depth of innovation represented by the companies involved in the competition. We thank them for their efforts and commitment and look forward to working with the companies to help them make Connecticut a center point of their growth strategy.”

This year, VentureClash also identified an early winner in the process: Aureus Analytics, which provides insurance industry solutions to measure customer experience. Hosted on an AI platform, its solutions combine both explicit and implicit data to determine a “Sentimeter” (CX) score for all customers, in real time. Anurag Shah, CEO of Aureus Analytics, is working with the Connecticut Innovations team to close an investment in the next few months.

“We have always said that we never let the VentureClash competition get in the way of a good deal,” said McCooe. “Aureus was in the process of raising a round, and we wanted to participate. We learned about the company through Startup Bootcamp, and we knew we wanted to join the round. We’re delighted to name Aureus our early winner of VentureClash 2018.”

The finalists, representing the most promising early-stage companies in digital health, financial technology, insurance technology and the Internet of Things, pitched their ideas in front of a live audience and a panel of judges at the Yale School of Management in New Haven, Conn. The judges included investors and subject-matter experts from Greycroft Partners, Oak HC/FT, Real Ventures, Stanley Ventures, Teamworthy Ventures, Travelers and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

In addition to the company pitches, Thursday’s event also featured a keynote address from Laurie Santos, a professor of psychology at Yale University, where she serves as Director of the Comparative Cognition Laboratory as well as the Canine Cognition Center, a research facility that studies how dogs think about the world.

The VentureClash competition started with applications from 300 companies from more than 15 countries. After two rounds of judging, nine finalists were named, and they then went on to compete at the live pitch event.

Event partners and sponsors included Aetna; aventri; Bernstein; Boehringer Ingelheim; Diameter Health; Disruptive Technologies; Elm Street Ventures; FML; Harman; Hartford Healthcare; Magellan Health; MasterCard; Medtronic; Nassau Re; NatWest Markets; Payflex; Pitney Bowes; Health Venture; ISG; Stanley, Black & Decker; startlab powered by Bank of Ireland; The Hartford; Shipman & Goodwin; Sikorsky Innovations; Synchrony Financial; Teamworthy Ventures; Travelers; Updike, Kelly & Spellacy; Voya Financial; Webster Bank; Yale University; and Yale University’s Office of Cooperative Research.

For more information on qualifications, requirements, guidelines and application, visit http://www.ventureclash.com.

About VentureClash
VentureClash is Connecticut Innovations’ global venture challenge focused on early-stage companies. The challenge identifies promising companies in digital health, financial technology, insurance technology and the Internet of Things that will receive investments from a $5 million award pool and the support of resources around Connecticut. To learn more, visit http://www.ventureclash.com.

About Connecticut Innovations Inc.
Connecticut Innovations is Connecticut’s strategic venture capital arm, providing funding and strategic support to early-stage technology companies. In addition to equity investments, CI provides grants that support innovation and collaboration through CTNext, and connections to its well-established network of partners and professionals.
To learn more, visit http://www.ctinnovations.com.

Contact: Lauren Carmody
Vice President of Marketing and Communications
Connecticut Innovations/VentureClash
860.258.7829
Lauren.Carmody@ctinnovations.com