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Image recognition startup Cortica Raised $1.5 million from Russian Mail.Ru

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/By Ilan Shavit /

Visual search company Cortica Inc. has raised $1.5 million from Moscow-based Mail.Ru Group (LSE: MAIL). to help fund its Image2Text visual search technology. The company says that the new funding is part of a larger round lead by other investors.
Cortica last raised $7 million in funding back in August 2012 from Horizons Ventures, a firm owned by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing, and Ynon Kriez, the former chairman and CEO of the Edermol Group. To date, the company has raised $11 million in venture funding.
Cortica goal is to change the way computers approach images and videos. It is developing technology that stimulates the human cortex to help computers recognize images “with the highest degree of accuracy.”
Cortica’s image recognition technology was originally developed at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.
Cortica was founded in 2007 by CEO Igal Raichelgauz and neuroscientists Prof. Yehoshua (Joshua) Zeevi and Karina Odinaev, who assembled a multidisciplinary team of neuroscience researchers, digital multimedia experts, and veterans of Israeli Military Intelligence to develop and commercialize the technology.
The technology enables computers to comprehend photo and video content on the web. The platform combines neuroscience and computer science to automatically recognize and interpret large amounts of visual data in real-time, including objects, places, faces, logos, brands, events, products, etc. with zero false positives.
The company is headquartered in New York City, with an office in Silicon Valley and development centers in Haifa and Ramat Gan.

Cortica will now have backing from Mail.Ru, which has a major presence in the Russian-speaking markets. Mail.Ru Group claims that its sites reach 86 percent of Russian-speaking Internet users every month. It operates top Russian email service Mail.Ru, two of the largest IM services (Mail.Ru Agent and ICQ), and two of the three largest Russian social networking sites (My World and Odnoklassniki.ru). Additionally, it owns a minority equity stake in top Russian social network Vkontakte.

Mor Yegerman, Mail.Ru Group head of international M&A said, “Cortica’s breakthrough technology provides a degree of recognition and understanding accuracy that is comparable with that of the human brain.
Raichelgauz said “Mail.ru shares our vision for leveraging Image2Text technology for visual search and contextual advertising and taking users’ web surfing experience to a whole new level. Mail.ru has the depth and breadth of market penetration to expose much larger audiences to Cortica’s technology.”

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