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16 October, 2021 - 21:47 By Tony Quested

Cambridge AI firm lands deal with investment arm of Mott MacDonald

Mott MacDonald Ventures, the strategic corporate venture arm of Mott MacDonald, has launched the infrastructure industry’s first AI-based web-tool which enables entrepreneurs to instantly assess the relevance of their business for future investment.

As well as indicating the alignment of a company to the Mott MacDonald Ventures ecosystem, the tool also considers crucial industry targets including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out by the United Nations.

The tool was developed in partnership with iKVA, a pioneering Cambridge-based artificial intelligence company which was founded by leading academics from the Department of Computer Science and Technology at the University of Cambridge and the Alan Turing Institute.

By adding a pitch deck or company URL, the tool uses iKVA’s knowledge management technology to compare the content against a framework including: the seventeen UN Sustainable Development Goals; the four UK Government’s Industrial Grand Challenges; and Mott MacDonald’s digital solutions platform, Moata.

This lets entrepreneurs visualise where their business fits in that constantly evolving ecosystem, helping them to understand how their organisation is aligned to Mott MacDonald’s client’s challenges, and giving insight into potential relevance and, ultimately, path to investment.

George Holder venture partnerships manager at Mott MacDonald Ventures said: “We are democratising the way startups access CVC (corporate venture capital), encouraging diversity and inclusion in reaching us as an investor, dissolving the barriers that can prevent incredible ideas from surfacing to reality and helping our clients achieve globally important goals such as the UN’s SDG’s.

“The tool is not only a completely new way of starting a conversation with our corporate venture capital team but also of delivering a pitch deck, redefining the way the industry operates in seeking out and developing new technology to address the ever-evolving demands in developing infrastructure.”

Jon Horden, CEO at iKVA, added: “Our unique technology allows Mott MacDonald to combine information from a number of disparate and siloed data sources and then map this information on to Mott MacDonald’s strategic goals.This enables Mott MacDonald to quickly and easily prioritise which companies they should be working with and provides startups an innovative and proactive way of interacting with a CVC.” 

Mott MacDonald has already assessed two investments in 2021 using the tool. The first was Piclo, an energy-market disruptor, cleantech start-up whose energy flexibility trading platform connects buyers and sellers of energy to accelerate the decarbonisation of electricity grids.

The second was in SAALG Geomechanics, a software and engineering start-up that provides a step-change in analytical capability to assess ground behaviour during the construction stage of civil engineering and building projects.

iKVA is a fast growing AI Knowledge Management company born out of Cambridge University and the Alan Turing Institute. iKVA’s solutions were developed with the input of Arm and the BBC and use unique Vector Mapping technology which allows international organisations to discover and analyse previously hard to access highly unstructured information to save them time, unlock value, and reduce business risk.

• Photograph by Alan Bennett/Media Imaging Solutions

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