Austin AI Startup Cognitive Scale Brings in $21.8M in Series B Funding

Austin—AI startup CognitiveScale has raised $21.8 million in a Series B round of funding.

The startup, which makes software that has created a cognitive cloud platform that can mine very large databases, reported Tuesday that the funding comes from investors Norwest Venture Partners and Intel Capital. The two-year-old company said this round brings total financing raised up to $32 million.

Cognitive computing involves using artificial intelligence and machine-learning techniques to build software systems that can “think,” adapt, and interact with people. One of the goals of the field is to help businesses make better sense of big data. CognitiveScale says it has worked with companies in healthcare and finance, among others.

“Our cognitive cloud software pairs man and machine so they can achieve something new and exponentially valuable together: intelligent user engagement and business processes that get smarter and more useful with time,” Manoj Saxena, CognitiveScale’s executive chairman, said in a press release Tuesday.

CognitiveScale is one of a growing cluster of AI/cognitive computing startups in the Austin area, on which Saxena has a particular focus. He has made half a dozen investments in companies working in this broad, buzzword-filled technology area in the last few years, saying the market will grow 50-fold to $50 billion by 2018.

Saxena, also the founder of The Entrepreneur Fund, believes Austin is poised to be a hotbed of innovation in the sector, largely due to the fact that the city is a key node for IBM Watson, the computing giant’s big artificial intelligence effort. (Both Saxena and CognitiveScale CEO Akshay Sabhikhi formerly worked in this area at IBM.) Currently, IBM has a $100 million fund to support startups that work with its Watson Developers Cloud. A number of Austin startups including Cerebri and WayBlazer are working with the technology.

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