Pictured S. Somasegar and Nagraj Kashyap
Today, in partnership with M12 (the newly renamed Microsoft Ventures), we are excited to announce the N. American winner of the Innovate.AI competition, a global startup competition to find the next generation of companies building intelligent applications.
The winning company, Envisagenics, has been awarded a $1M investment from Madrona Venture Group and M12, and we look forward to joining them on their journey to help solve some of the toughest problems in healthcare and biotechnology today.
We first explored the idea of an AI-focused startup competition with M12 in early 2017. Both Madrona and M12 have made large investments in AI, and we thought M12 would be the best partner to take this idea and help us reach a larger base of startups across North America. M12 was excited to partner with us on this and in addition took it global.
We received 250+ applications from companies in North America. Startups needed to have built products, achieved some level of customer progress and have raised limited capital to enter.
Working together with the team at M12, we pared this list of 250+ down to 9 finalists, who were working on intelligent applications in the fields of healthcare, financial services, cybersecurity, software development, enterprise sales, computer vision and manufacturing automation.
Each of the final teams were then invited to spend two days in Seattle at the Madrona and Microsoft offices to get to know one another and pitch to a team of VCs from both firms. The final presentations typically involved a presentation, Q&A, and live demo of the products, and we were very impressed with the quality of products that these teams have built.
Envisagenics, our winning company, is in the business of applying AI to RNA splicing. Founded by Maria Pineda and Martin Akerman, the company is using their proprietary data and machine learning models to build a drug discovery platform targeted at the large number of diseases caused by RNA splicing defects.
This is a big problem and an impactful solution. Approximately 15% of all diseases are caused by disrupted splicing, including 50% of rare genetic disorders. Healthcare companies can drastically accelerate their drug discovery processes by using Envisagenics’s data and machine learning models to prioritize drug targets and biomarkers.
We believe there is massive potential in the future of intelligent applications, and we are thrilled to be investing in a company that is applying the power of ML and AI to a key pain point in the world of healthcare.
Please join us in welcoming Envisagenics to the Madrona and M12 families!