International Finance Corporation (IFC), which is a part of the World Bank Group, is investing $3 million in pi Ventures’ maiden fund. The fund is claimed to be India’s first Applied Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Internet of Things (IoT) focused early-stage venture fund.
The amount raised will be used for investing in companies leveraging technologies such as applied artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and IoT across a range of sectors.
IFC is making these investment through the ‘IFC Startup Catalyst programme’, which aims to build local ecosystems to drive innovation and entrepreneurship. Through the programme, it aims to invest in sustainable seed-stage funding mechanisms, including accelerators and seed funds, for supporting early-stage entrepreneurship globally.
Ruchira Shukla, Regional Lead, Venture Capital, South Asia, IFC, said,
This investment is aligned with IFC’s objective to act as a catalyst to spur entrepreneurial activity and support technology start-ups that drive innovation in India and globally, and solve complex problems across industries.
pi Ventures had recently announced the first close at $13 million. It has made four investments so far in the healthcare & energy-efficiency space, namely Sigtuple, Zenatix, Ten3T and NIRAMAI. Manish Singhal, Founding Partner, pi Ventures, says,
Getting IFC to back us in our journey is very meaningful to us. Not only do they bring a wealth of knowledge but also a world-wide network which can be very useful for our investee companies. We appreciate IFC backing disruptive product companies in the Applied AI space via pi Ventures.
IFC’s focus areas in venture capital include consumer internet, edutech, healthtech, cleantech and emerging technology solutions based on data analytics and AI. The firm’s venture capital investments in India include online grocery major Big Basket, edu-tech start-up Byju, Portea — a company providing affordable home-care and Blackbuck, a leading player in e-logistics.
India is IFC’s top country exposure, globally. IFC’s committed portfolio in India is over $5 billion as of June 30, 2016. In FY16, IFC committed $1.1 billion in new investments in the country. In addition to strengthening local capital markets in India, it is also focused on boosting financing in infrastructure and logistics, promoting financial inclusion, helping create conditions to attract increased private capital, and helping structure public-private partnerships.