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User-generated content platform Lobster raises £1m to deepen AI-powered search

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Lobster, a search and licensing platform for user-generated content, has raised £1m.

The London-based firm enables brands, agencies and the media to search for and license visual content directly from social media users and cloud archives.

It aims to use the new funds to further develop its ‘smart search’ technology, which uses a combination of image recognition and deep learning to create automatic descriptions for content.

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For example, a search for images of surfers will include what the AI has guessed is “a man standing on a beach holding a surfboard”.

Over the coming months, the startup plans to release an update which will extend its smart search to include video.

Investors in the round included Vlad Huber, partner at KL10CH (also known as ‘The Key’), a network of tech-focused co-working spaces in Moscow; and former CEO of Otkritie Capital, Nikolay Katorzhnov, who invested £500,000.

Olga Egorsheva, CEO at Lobster, said: “We’re glad that The Key is now our shareholder and [we’re] grateful for their help in raising the major part of the round’s funds.”

Aside from developing the platform’s AI capabilities, Lobster is also planning to use the funds to power expansion into further markets in the US, Asia and Europe.

A statement from the company said: “Growth will be underpinned by a larger team, both in the UK and worldwide, along with several new tech partnerships.”

The startup, which launched in 2014 at TechCrunch Disrupt, previously raised £500,000 via Wayra UK, angels, venture capital and crowdfunding.

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