BizSpark Startup of the Day – Cortexica

Congratulations to Cortexica, selected as the BizSpark Startup of the Day! Based in the UK, Cortexica, member of BizSpark One, are creators of a bio-inspired vision system enabling intelligent image recognition through their API. Hear the story about Cortexica in the below micro-documentary and interview with Steve Semenzato, VP of Business Development of Cortexica.


Tell us who you are and your role in the company:

VP Biz Dev. My role has been wide and varied within the company from the beginning. Initially I helped get the company off the ground, and took it in the direction of its current mobile focus. My primary role now is to focus on bringing the benefits of the Cortexica Visual Search Engine to a wide variety of mobile platforms and devices that will allow App Developers to utilize the features in all manner of fun and innovative ways.

What did you do before creating your company?

I had created another software company, so I guess I am a serial entrepreneur.

How do you feel being the most promising ‘Startup of the Day’ per Microsoft BizSpark?

We are both humbled and very excited to think that Microsoft recognizes that the concept of “mobile visual search” is an exciting technology space. We are enthusiastic to make sure that we perform to this expectation and have the continued ability to encourage the marketplace to take a look at how this technology can be implemented to add value.

What is your company’s mission?

Our Company believes that, one day, using a mobile device to perform a search function using an image will become ubiquitous. As will automatic verification and dynamic real-time meta tagging of images captured.

In 140 characters or less, tell us what your company does:

Our bio-inspired vision system enables image recognition using principles of the human visual cortex, & exciting new experiences & value for consumers & businesses.

How did you get the idea for your company?

It came about after seven years of research within the Bio Engineering Department at Imperial College, London that looked into the principles of human sight. The idea came from our founder, Dr. Anil Bharath, whose view was that, if we could look at how human evolution had solved some of the problems of sight, we could build better algorithms that would be significantly more robust and tolerant for all manner of real world recognition problems across a wide range of categories and lighting conditions.

Tell us about your funding history. Are you currently looking for funding? If so, how much?

We have been funded since conception. There has been over $5m of funding received as part of the original research within Imperial College and, since the Company was formed in Feb 2009, over $3m has been provided by Imperial Innovations.

How many employees do you have? How many developers?

We have 9 people in total, 5 people in R&D.

Are you hiring? If yes, what are you hiring for and where?

Yes, we are hiring! In London and San Francisco. We are looking for Product Managers and Researchers.

Which platform are you building on? Why?

We are fully committed on the Microsoft stack and heavily utilize the Azure Cloud. We support all mobile platforms and have been particularly involved with WP7 and now ‘Mango’. We have just launched an API that allows any developer to automatic upload their images and build an App that interacts with our system.

Where do you see opportunities today in the Software/Internet area?

Mobile commerce and mobile price comparison.

What do you think about the BizSpark Program?

It is a great program to gain exposure and focus in a crowded space. The ability to work with Microsoft’s technology and utilize some of the infrastructure offerings like Azure is extremely beneficial.

Do you have any advice for young Software entrepreneurs?

Never, never, never give up!

Who’s your role model?

The Marshall played by Tommy Lee Jones in the movie The Fugitive.

What’s the ONE THING you would like readers to take away from this interview?

Cool innovation is one thing, determination and belief in yourself is another. Combine them both, add a bit of money, and you have the makings of one helluva successful software company.

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