Protopia AI Closes $6M Seed Round

  • ATX Venture Partners led the round; Galaxy Interactive, Silverton Partners and DNX Ventures also participated
  • Protopia AI helps enterprises maximize value from their real data using AI/ML with a novel privacy-enhancing layer that ensures raw sensitive data is never exposed to AI, but the AI still gets everything it needs
  • Protopia AI will use the funding to further build out engineering teams go-to-market efforts, as well as advance product features

Protopia AI, a company that helps enterprises fully leverage their AI data, today announced its $6 million seed funding round led by ATX Venture Partners. Protopia AI solves a significant problem in the space: the inability of enterprises to access key data needed for their artificial intelligence models because of data protection policies. An AI Gartner report on CEOs found that the top barrier to AI implementation is data accessibility, making it difficult for enterprises to deploy AI initiatives.

Additional investors in the round included Galaxy Interactive, Silverton Partners and DNX Ventures. Protopia has raised a total of $8 million, which includes an initial $2 million pre-seed round. All existing investors extended their commitment by participating in the new round.

Protopia AI has developed a software-only solution that enables its customers to use AI and machine learning to extract insights from their actual data without exposing sensitive information in identifiable form. Its Stained Glass Transform™ solution adds a new layer of protection against leakage of sensitive information for any data type — visual, text or tabular –– and can be applied throughout the ML lifecycle: training and inference. Protopia AI also provides a demo anyone can try out.

The core technology is based on inventions by Professor Hadi Esmaeilzadeh, endowed chair of computer architecture at the University of California San Diego, who is also Protopia AI’s co-founder and chief technology officer. Other providers in the space either focus solely on the training phase, which leaves the need for protecting sensitive information in deployment data unanswered, or require specialized hardware or new ML paradigms that makes them difficult to use.

“We are at an inflection point where AI has unprecedented capabilities — but at the cost of losing the control and ownership of data,” Esmaeilzadeh said. “Protopia AI is the vision to enable practical AI without losing the control/ownership of data.”

Funds raised from the round will be used to build out engineering teams and advance the product. The company is currently beta-testing its product across industries where data sensitivity causes the most operational slowdowns, including financial services, government and health care.

“Protopia AI empowers enterprises to extract maximal value using AI and machine learning from their data by providing the governance and protection that is necessary,” said Eiman Ebrahimi, Protopia AI co-founder and CEO.

Solving the Dilemma of Not Being Able to Access All Enterprise Data

Today, companies are looking to create real value from their data using AI and ML. They frequently are blocked or slowed down by data-sensitivity issues. According to a Seagate Technology and IDC survey, respondents estimated their organizations collect only 56% of their operational data. Out of that 56%, 43% of data remains unused. Protopia AI solves this dilemma with its easy-to-use Stained Glass Transform™ that enables the operation of AI and ML while removing the need to access the company’s data in identifiable form.

Protopia AI’s industry-unique solution works alongside existing data-protection and encryption solutions. Stained Glass Transform™ does not require a new platform or new hardware to be used, and operates with minimal intrusiveness to existing ML processes. Protopia’s Stained Glass Transform™ can be applied with little overhead in the data pipeline at the edge, on-premises or in cloud-data platforms, and complements the latest security features the underlying hardware provides.

AI’s Big Shift Towards Data-Centricity

AI systems rely on models and data. However, as model architectures have started becoming standardized, it’s become increasingly clear that the wins are in the data. Enterprises are now focusing on data-centric AI –– the shift in focus to improving data in ways that are reliable, efficient and systematic. Data accessibility is a top barrier to AI implementation for companies. Protopia AI is the de-facto early market leader in helping enterprise ML efforts by minimizing the friction of getting the right data, to the right models, at the right time.

Protopia AI was recently named a Gartner® Cool Vendor in AI governance and responsible AI, recognizing its unique positioning as a low-overhead, software-only approach to data protection for both inference and model training. The technology has seen early success with the U.S. Navy at the Trident Warrior 2022 event, where in partnership with NetApp, Protopia AI demonstrated the capability of AI and ML operating on unidentifiable data. The team is also working with financial technology company Q2 on expanding access to its most advanced fraud-detection solution in segments that were previously difficult to reach. Protopia AI’s CEO and Q2’s chief data scientist teams will be discussing their solution with data and AI leaders at the upcoming annual AI Summit in New York City.

“Data-centric AI is the future, and Protopia is positioned to emerge as an industry innovator and market leader,” said Chris Shonk, ATX Venture Partners managing partner. “No other software company in the market is offering a solution with privacy in mind, at all stages of the ML lifecycle, including deployment, in mind from inception. We have a shared vision for maximal data protection and are pleased to fund the company at this critical growth stage.”

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