Data Science Investment Counter —Funding raised by UK data science companies in 2018.
£ 5.640 Million

Cytora Is Reading the Web to Predict the Future


Cytora (called after a butterfly in a nod to the eponymous effect) leverages machine learning algorithms to extract datasets from the Web and spot geopolitical trends (image via )

What is the impact of an earthquake in Japan on the price of coal in China? How are terrorist attacks affecting the supply chain of petrochemical products? Can we read the world to understand which investments make sense, and which do not?

A UK startup born in the halls of Cambridge University is using Artificial Intelligence to answer those questions. Founded in 2013 by Cambridge students Andrzej Czapiewski, Aeneas Wiener, Richard Hartley, and Joshua Wallace, Cytora (called after a butterfly, as a nod to “the butterfly effect”)  is leveraging machine learning algorithms to extract datasets from the Web and spot geopolitical trends as they happen— from the incidence of data breaches over time, to the impact of labour strikes on a country’s economy.

Right now, the 15-employee business caters mainly to asset managers and large investment banks, which turn to Cytrora’s insights to refine their strategic decsions; a tool specifically designed to help insurance companies set their prices according to geopolitical risks is to be released in the second quarter of 2017.

Founder and CEO Richard Hartley said that the company taps into various kinds of data mined from the Web.
“It ranges from new media and social media to web-based government datasets,” he told Shack15 News. “That really helps one understand what’s happening in the world— floods, fires, supply chain disruptions— and grasp why it’s happening, too.”

He explained that, as things stand, Cytora’s intelligent system is still aided by flesh-and-bones analysts putting its prediction in context, and training the AI to recognise new information in the process.

Hartley recounted that— although the company’s market segment is rather niche right now— the initial idea for Cytora sprung out of the musings of a political science buff.
“My co-founders and I were thinking about how tech and social science intersects, and how this could help using tech to understand social events,” he said. “For instance, why do revolutions happen? Why  do migrations happen? ”
Hartley clarified that, right now, Cytora has no plan to take on political predictions— which, given the monumental upsets global politics has witnessed over the last few months, is probably a good idea.

The company, which has offices in Cambridge and London, has recently raised  £2.4 million in a Series A round led by VC firm Parkwalk. It plans to use the fresh cash  to expand its staff by 25 people, among other things.


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