Microsoft Taps 10 Machine Learning Startups for Seattle Accelerator

Ten nascent businesses applying machine learning to everything from answering medical questions to recruiting university students were tapped for Microsoft Ventures’ latest accelerator, kicking off this week in Seattle.

It’s the third running of the accelerator program in Seattle. The focus this time around is machine learning and data science, enabled, naturally, by Microsoft services such as Azure ML and Cortana Analytics Suite.

The companies, listed below, were selected from a group numbering in the hundreds, through a process that included interviews in a dozen North American cities and a vetting of finalists by a jury that included more than 50 people, 70 percent of whom came from outside Microsoft, according to a blog post Thursday from Hanan Lavy, director of the Seattle accelerator.

The focus of Microsoft’s initial startup accelerator in Seattle, in fall 2014, was home automation and Internet of Things. The 2015 class was comprised of companies working on productivity applications. Microsoft now runs startup accelerators in Bangalore, Beijing, Berlin, London, Paris, and Tel Aviv, in addition to Seattle.

The Seattle accelerator runs for four months during which entrepreneurs will build their businesses with help from mentors, marketing experts, customer introductions, office space, and other resources, culminating in a June demo day before potential investors.

This spring promises to be a busy one for local startup accelerators, as Techstars Seattle shifts to a Winter/Spring schedule, in part to sync up with the region’s best weather for working indoors.

Here are the 10 startups selected for Microsoft’s Seattle accelerator, with descriptions from Lavy’s blog post:

  • Clarify allows developers to search and understand audio and video using a simple API.”
  • DefinedCrowd is a platform that provides big data for Speech and NLP Technology by combining crowd sourcing and machine learning.”
  • Knomos is a knowledge network leveraging data visualization for legal research, education, and user collaboration.”
  • MedWhat is an artificial intelligence doctor that answers medical questions, has personalized medical conversations with the user about their daily health & wellness, provides medical reminders and follows up using the user’s health record and medical sensor data.”
  • OneBridge Solutions provides enterprise, mission-critical cloud apps for pipeline companies using MS Azure, Big Data and Machine learning.”
  • Percolata optimizes retail labor through sensors and mobile and web applications.”
  • Plexuss is radically changing the way universities find and recruit students.”
  • simMachines provides metric and non-metric nearest neighbor classifiers, recommendations, clustering and search with a new family of dense distance functions (cloud-based SaaS).”

Benjamin Romano is editor of Xconomy Seattle. Email him at bromano [at] xconomy.com. Follow @bromano

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