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February 5, 2019

CI looking for startups for 2019 VentureClash

HBJ Photo | Matt Pilon Connecticut Innovations CEO Matthew McCooe congratulated VentureClash first place winners Danny Weissberg and Sara Smolley of Israeli speech recognition firm Voiceitt.

Connecticut Innovations (CI), the state’s quasi-public venture capital arm, says it’s accepting applications for its fourth annual VentureClash pitch competition.

CI on Monday said the first round of applications for the global venture challenge will last until June 7.

After two rounds of judging, about 10 early stage digital health, insurance technology, internet of things and fintech startups will be selected to participate in the fall event to compete for investment awards worth $5 million. The winner will receive $1.5 million and the remaining $3.5 million will be split between other trailing startups.

In 2018, nine startups from six countries were selected to the third annual cohort. An israeli developer of speech recognition technology, Voiceitt, won last year’s $1.5 million prize.

To qualify, applicants must have been in business for at least a year and have paying customers or customers that are testing their product.

Companies must also have a compelling business reason to establish a Connecticut presence and are required to have a focus on digital health, financial technology (fintech), insurance technology (insurtech), or industry 4.0, which includes sustainable materials and resources.

In other CI news Monday, the agency says it’s hosting a pitch competition in Tel Aviv, Israel, on May 23. Participants will compete for a $500,000 investment from CI, a semifinalist spot in VentureClash 2019 and a $5,000 grant to visit Connecticut in August.

Applicants for that event must apply by March 15.

"There is a dense concentration of fast-growing startups in Tel Aviv," said Matt McCooe, CEO of Connecticut Innovations. "Over the past few years, many Israeli companies have competed in our semifinals and finals rounds.”

Last week, CI said it invested $750,000 in an Indian insurtech provider that opened a Hartford office.

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