Cortexica, a visual search technology company was incorporated at the Bioengineering Department of Imperial College, has managed to rake in £2 million from existing investor Touchstone Innovations, formerly known as Imperial Innovations.

The firm, headquartered in London, also has an office in San Francisco. Over the past year, Cortexica has accumulated £3.9 million in funding. Its technology is rooted in AI, and works by mimicking the processes found in the human visual cortex to recognise content from digitally captured videos and images, making the claim of reverse-engineering how the human cortex processes vision. Iain McCready, CEO of Cortexica, said:

We are delighted that Innovations is continuing its commitment and support for Cortexica with this further funding round. This funding is a strong endorsement of the strength of our technology, with its expanded application providing significant scale to our commercial opportunity.

He observes that businesses in all sectors are seeking to improve customer service and upgrade their operational efficiencies by making use of AI solutions, while their current focus is “building our customer base across a range of new applications and verticals.” The company plans to expand its force to 50 people.

According to Cortexica, it has partnered with well-known retailers in the UK, US and Europe, including John Lewis, Macy’s and Zalando. Jon Edington, director of technology ventures at Touchstone Innovations, commented:

Cortexica is a strong example of a growth business with a clear roadmap to commercial success and this is being demonstrated by the contracts it is winning. It has developed a robust and scalable AI-based technology solution, and has a first-class management team driving the business forward.

The technology has been trialled at Brent Cross shopping centre in London with Hammerson, which is a joint owner of the centre along with Standard Life Investments. In the Brent Cross trial, app users would be able to upload a photo or take a picture of an item of clothing on their smartphone, for example, something that a celebrity in a magazine is wearing. The technology would recognise it and find similar items in stock at various stores in the shopping centre in order to make suggestions.

Hammerson is currently planning a full test at Brent Cross, as well as at a shopping centre in France, and views the technology as a way of combating the ease of use of searching for shopping online. Kathryn Malloch, Hammerson’s product innovation manager, said:

It brought the convenience of online into the physical space, allowing shoppers to search and look at products from a wide variety of retailers.

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