International Finance Corporation (IFC), a part of the World Bank Group, is investing $3 million in pi Ventures’ maiden fund. Fun plans to utilise freshly infused fund for investing in companies leveraging technologies such as applied artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and IoT across a range of sectors.

Commenting on the development, 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 startups that drive innovation in India and globally, and solve complex problems across industries.”

IFC is making investments through the ‘IFC Startup Catalyst programme’ which aims to build local ecosystems to drive innovation and entrepreneurship. IFC has both a direct investment practice and is also a Limited Partner (LP) to local PE and VC funds.

Founded in mid 2016 by Manish Singhal and Umakant Soni, pi Ventures is an early stage investment fund focused on startups in the area such as applied artificial intelligence, machine learning and internet of things (IoT). Till date, fund has made four investments in the healthcare and energy-efficiency space, namely Sigtuple, Zenatix, Ten3T and NIRAMAI. Earlier in March 2017, pi Ventures had announced the first close at $13 million.

“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,” said Manish Singhal, Founding Partner, pi Ventures.

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, IFC is 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.

IFC’s focus areas in venture capital include consumer internet, edutech, healthtech, cleantech and emerging technology solutions based on data analytics and AI.  IFC’s venture capital investments in India include online grocery major Big Basket, edtech startup Byju, Portea- a company providing affordable home-care and Blackbuck, a leading player in elogistics.

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