CDC leads Series B funding in AI-based data labelling startup iMerit
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iMerit Technology Services Pvt. Ltd, an information technology startup focussed on data labelling and annotation, has raised $20 million (about Rs 143.7 crore) in a Series B funding round.

CDC Group Plc, the UK government’s development finance institution, led the found.

Other existing investors also participated in the round, CDC said in a statement. iMerit’s existing investors include Omidyar Network, Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, and Khosla Impact.

The Kolkata-based company will use the funds to expand its workforce to 10,000 global employees by 2023 apart from enhancing its proprietary artificial intelligence-based platform, the statement added.

“This investment validates our belief that the growth in artificial intelligence and machine learning is best serviced by a full-time, specialist workforce that continuously learns and grows with the technology,” Radha R Basu said, founder at iMerit, said.

Separately, CDC Group CEO Nick O’Donohoe said the investor’s commitment to iMerit was in line with the strategy of backing companies that were creating skilled jobs. “Advances in AI technology are normally seen as a threat to jobs. iMerit has demonstrated that the opposite is true,” O’Donohoe added.

iMerit, which was founded in 2012, turns information into data that is usable for machine learning processes. It also runs data enrichment processes that improve it for future use. The firm says it has more than 3,000 full-time staff, with over 50% of them being women. It delivers web-enabled IT services including document management, multimedia, global services, design solutions, finance and accounting. It provides its workers with market-aligned skill training (MAST).

In March 2013, the company raised an undisclosed sum in funding from the Omidyar Network. At the time, the company said it would use the capital to scale its operations, open additional project centres and expand its senior management team.

CDC Group and its India bets

In India, CDC has committed to more than $1.7 billion to businesses with a historical ticket size of its equity investment in Indian companies ranging from $10 million to as much as $150 million in India Infoline Finance Ltd.

The UK-based impact investor has also backed more than 50 private equity and venture capital funds that invest in India since it began its focus on the country in 2004. This year, it says it plans to invest around $1.5 billion in companies across Asia and Africa with a focus on fighting climate change, empowering women and creating new jobs.

In December last year, the CDC Group invested Rs 215 crore ($30.3 million) in debt in Dr Agarwal’s Health Care Ltd. In the same month, it also made an equity investment of $36 million (Rs 255.36 crore) in Warburg Pincus-backed logistics firm Ecom Express Pvt. Ltd.

In 2018, it contributed Rs 100 crore of the Rs 145 crore raised by Gurugram-based fintech startup Indifi Technologies Pvt. Ltd and also bet on an Indian dairy startup.

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