Red tape is a frustration for many companies. But one Chicago startup is betting on AI as a tool for making it easier to handle.
Ascent RegTech, whose cloud-based platform helps companies in regulated industries stay on the right side of the law, announced on Thursday that it has raised a $6 million Series A round of funding.
Founded in 2015, Ascent uses artificial intelligence technologies to analyze regulatory documents and turn them into actionable checklists. Its platform continuously processes millions of regulatory data points, ensuring that companies are up to speed as soon as anything changes.
“Knowledge building in today’s environment is a lot like how the manufacturing of goods used to be,” said co-founder and CEO Brian Clark. “Everything used to be done by humans, but now we’re reaching an inflection point where machines can help us be exponentially more productive.”
Clark said his company's goal is not to replace humans, but instead to help his customers navigate an increasingly complex regulatory environment and make more informed decisions about the risks associated with the decisions they make.
Ascent will use the funding to enhance its technology and expand its footprint in Chicago, with a particular focus on technology, data science, legal analysis, marketing and sales.
On the tech front, Ascent plans to improve its automation processes and add support for new regulatory channels.
Alsop Louie Partners led Ascent’s Series A. Randall Kroszner, who was a member of the Federal Reserve System’s board from 2006 to 2009, also participated in the round, as did Temerity Capital Partners, Steve Kaplan and Doug Monieson.
The company recently completed an international pilot program in the United Kingdom with the Dutch multinational bank ING Group and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. The pilot program was designed to explore the potential for — and future challenges of — applying AI to regulatory compliance.
“When RegTech meets financial services, we create opportunities for banks, startups and regulators to collaborate and solve industry-wide challenges,” said Supun King-Jayawardana, who leads CBA’s London Innovation Lab, in a statement. “By working together, we can share best practice in due diligence, experimentation costs, business knowledge and resources — ultimately driving great outcomes for all parties.”
Clark said Ascent currently has 14 employees but expects that number to grow significantly in the year to come.
"We've been very fortunate to have a fantastic culture, team and board of directors so far," said Clark. "After raising the round, it's important to take a step back and acknowledge all the hard work that got us here."