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22 April, 2016 - 08:56 By Kate Sweeney

Ex-Techstars MD joins AI startup

rainbird, jon bradford

Cambridge investor and entrepreneur Jon Bradford has agreed to help an artificial intelligence startup in the UK raise funds and scale globally.

Bradford, former MD of Techstars and who brought the Springboard initiative for startups to Cambridge, has joined Norwich-based Rainbird as a board adviser.

Founded in July 2013 by serial entrepreneur James Duez and computer scientist Ben Taylor, Rainbird is an artificial intelligence platform that uses existing human and business knowledge to automate knowledge work and deliver smart systems that can transform organisations.

The technology behind the Rainbird platform is also capable of learning through interaction and from every decision that is made, getting smarter over time with the aim of improving large scale decision-making processes.

Bradford joins at a time then the business is also seeking to raise a further £1.5m to fund technology and commercial development. The additional investment will supplement previous funding of over £1m from 500Startups, TechStars and Angel Investors.

Bradford is founder of F6S, tech.eu and is a non-executive director at Central Working. He was previously the managing director of Techstars in London and over the last few years has acted as an adviser to other accelerators from Montreal to Moscow. He has a track record for helping startups and their founders achieve their potential.

He originally met the founding Rainbird team when they participated in the intensive 13 week Techstars programme in late 2014.

Bradford said: “I have followed Rainbird’s progress closely since the Techstars programme and am delighted to see the company gain traction with some very large organisations.

“Artificial intelligence is one of the most important technical innovations of the 21st Century with profound implications for how both frontline and back office processes operate.

“It is on every CEO’s agenda to cut costs and improve service levels, for example by transforming the way that customers interact with enterprise using technology.

“Only this week Facebook announced the introduction of their Bot Store for Messenger, further testament to the growing demand for smart, consultative tools that move beyond the capabilities of simple decision-trees.”

Rainbird is a cognitive technology that automated knowledge work. It enables enterprises to to make human judgments at scale, and augments human decisions in more complex tasks, significantly reducing costs.

MasterCard chose Rainbird to work on a new project to create a sales advisory tool that will be used to capture the knowledge and skills of the experienced sales team, and build software to recreate and improve on it.

Rainbird CEO Ben Taylor said: “We feel incredibly lucky to have Jon’s knowledge and experience behind us at such an important time for Rainbird. We are well on the way to securing £1.5m in new funding.

“Jon’s expertise will also be incredibly valuable in helping us scale the business and take Rainbird to new markets through our growing network of partners.”

According to McKinsey, the potential economic impact of the automation of knowledge work by 2025 could be $5.2 trillion-$6.7 trillion.

Gartner forecasts that by 2020, customers will manage 85 per cent of their relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human. Amazon, Apple and Google have collectively paid hundreds of millions of dollars for Cambridge-based AI companies in the last couple of years.
 

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