Deep Technology Incubator Bridgewest Ventures has closed another successful investment round by backing a new proprietary Artificial Intelligence (AI) training platform with high-growth capability across a wide range of global sectors.*
MACSO, a new start up headed by AI ethics specialist and founder of online educational channel Comfort AI, Saba Samiei, is at the forefront of global AI technology with a focus on making it accessible to as many people as possible.
"Saba’s vision is to bring AI into the comfort zone of as many people as she can reach. The proprietary AI training platform Saba and her team has developed, and continues to expand, is highly scalable and has potential across a wide range of sectors and IoT [Internet of Things] verticals." John Robson, General Manager of Bridgewest Ventures NZ (BVNZ).
The new joint venture complements BVNZ’s existing investments in machine learning and AI. Samiei successfully raised seed capital to develop MACSO’s AI training framework to support edge devices with capability to expand to application and cloud layer solutions in the future.
Plans to expand MACSO’s end-to-end AI training model include automating the collection, preparation, and training of both MACSO’s and other standard AI algorithms to support a wide range of AI devices and applications. MACSO also received investment from IP and hardware manufacturer Chaoyang Semiconductor, a specialist producer of low-power edge sensor devices who were looking for a software partner to help commercialise their technology.
Samiei said the joint venture between BVNZ and Chaoyang Semiconductor would enable it to get to market with a scalable AI solution for IoT devices within a very compressed timeframe.
"This new partnership gives MACSO a unique advantage; we are going to blend the world leading low-power chipset from Chaoyang with a novel and massively scalable training engine to completely disrupt and breakdown the barriers for edge computing in a number of IOT verticals. Our roadmap then quickly scales the platforms to create the same disruption for cloud-based applications." Saba Samiei
As an AI Ethics specialist, Samiei plans to ensure that ethical AI principles are central to the company’s core values. Since 2016 she has dedicated her career to researching AI both from an ethical and technical perspective.
"AI will change the world and we intend to ensure that MACSO is at the forefront of that change," she says.
Samiei first became interested in AI ethics through her love for astrophysics and the warnings her favourite author, Stephen Hawking, had regarding AI. When choosing her company name, she combined that passion with the fact that she wanted to lead a company that had "outside the box thinking".
"Considering the Milky Way Galaxy is our box, I wanted my team to think way outside it. The furthest galaxy from our Milky Way is MACS0647-JD. It’s not the best name for a company so I picked the first few letters and number and MACSO Technologies was born."
The MACSO Joint Venture will initially focus on developing the central training platform architecture to support the low-power IoT sensor device that has been developed by Chaoyang Semiconductor. Robson said while the first six months will be focused on integrating and training the Chaoyang chipset, the training platform was being designed to be hugely scalable and compatible with any sensor platform.
"Saba will be building out a blueprint for how to rapidly train AI models with the MACSO platform and will be working closely with Chaoyang to leverage their unique hardware which has powerful edge computing potential, and which operates at very low power. This combined solution offers a perfect sensor solution to any business that is looking to train and deploy an IoT sensor that can operate on or off grid, and that can remain in operation for long periods of time in remote areas,"
This investment by Bridgewest Ventures was made under the Callaghan Innovation Deep Tech Incubator programme. The programme is designed for early-stage deep tech investment, and Bridgewest Ventures’ incubation model is a high-touch high-velocity partnership that is designed to work in partnership with founders to accelerate their development cycle towards MVP and revenue goals.
Bridgewest Ventures has so far reviewed more than 170 investment opportunities as part of the Programme. In addition to the three successful investments now in the New Zealand portfolio, Bridgewest Ventures has four additional investments undergoing due diligence and with an expectation of the fourth investment being closed in May 2021.
*This transaction is subject to approval from the Overseas Investment Office.