NtechLab, a startup that helps analyze footage captured by Moscow’s 100,000 surveillance cameras, just closed an investment of more than RUB 1 billion ($13 million) to further global expansion.

The five-year-old company sells software that recognizes faces, silhouettes and actions on videos. It’s able to do so on a vast scale in real time, allowing clients to react promptly to situations. 

The latest round, financed by Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Russian Direct Investment Fund, and an undisclosed sovereign wealth fund from the Middle East, carries a strategic purpose. The company broke even last year with revenue reaching $8 million, three times the number from the previous year, and expects to finish 2020 at a similar growth pace.

The new round will enable the startup to develop new capabilities such as automatic detection of aggressive behavior and vehicle recognition. City contracts are a major revenue driver for the firm. However, the company plans to go to non-government clients, such as those in the entertainment industry, finance, trade and hospitality.

The Moscow-based startup began life as a consumer software that allowed users to find someone’s online profile by uploading a photo of the person. It later pivoted to video and has since attracted government clients keen to deploy facial recognition in law enforcement. 

As it expands globally, NtechLab inevitably comes across customers who misuse or abuse its algorithms. While it claimed to keep all customer data private and have no control over how its software is used, the company strives to create a process that can be in compliance with local laws. 

“We vet our partners so we can trust them, and we know that they will not use our technology for bad purposes”, said by an anonymous upper level manager.


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