NVIDIA started the Emerging Companies Summit six years ago, and since then the event has grown in size and scope to identify and support those technology companies tha leverage (or plan to leverage) GPGPU computing to deliver innovative products. The ECS continues to be a platform for new startups to showcase their work at the annual GPU Technology Conference. NVIDIA provides support in the form of legal, developmental, and co-marketing to the companies featured at ECS.
There was an interesting twist this year though in the form of the Early Start Challenge. This is a new aspect to ECS in addition to the ‘One to Watch’ award. I attended the Emerging Companies Summit again this year and managed to snag some photos and participate in the Early Start Challenge (disclosure: i voted for Audiostream TV).
The 12 Early Start Challenge contestants take the stage at once to await the vote tally.
During the challenge, 12 selected startup companies were each given eight minutes on stage to pitch their company and why their innovations were deserving of the $100,000 grand prize. The on stage time was divided into a four minute presentation and a four minute Q&A session with the panel of judges (this year the audience was not part of the Q&A session at ECS unlike last year due to time constraints).
After all 12 companies had their chance on stage, the panel of judges and the audience submitted their votes for the most innovative startup. The panel of judges included:
- Scott Budman Business & Technology Reporter, NBC
- Jeff Herbst Vice President of Business Development, NVIDIA
- Jens Hortsmann Executive Producer & Managing Partner, Crestlight Venture Productions
- Pat Moorhead President & Principal Analyst, Moor Insights & Strategy
- Bill Reichert Managing Director, Garage Technology Ventures
The companies participating in the challenge include Okam Studio, MyCloud3D, Global Valuation, Brytlyt, Clarifai, Aerys, oMobio, ShiVa Technologies, IGI Technologies, Map-D, Scalable Graphics, and AudioStream TV. The companies are involved in machine learning, deep neural networks, computer vision, remote graphics, real time visualization, gaming, and big data analytics.
After all the votes were tallied, Map-D was revealed to be the winner and received a check for $100,000 from NVIDIA Vice President of Business Development Jeff Herbst.
Jeff Herbst awarding Map-D's CEO with the Early Start Challenge grand prize check. From left to right: Scott Budman, Jeff Herbst, and Thomas Graham.
Map-D is a company that specializes in a scaleable in-memory GPU database that promises millisecond queries directly from GPU memory (with GPU memory bandwidth being the bottleneck) and very fast database inserts. The company is working with Facebook and PayPal to analyze data. In the case of Facebook, Map-D is being used to analyze status updates in real time to identify malicious behavior. The software can be scaled across eight NVIDIA Tesla cards to analyze a billion Twitter tweets in real time.
It is specialized software, but extremely useful within its niche. Hopefully the company puts the prize money to good use in furthering its GPGPU endeavors. Although there was only a single grand prize winner, I found all the presentations interesting and look forward to seeing where they go from here.