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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A proprietary machine-learning platform has driven more than $100 million in portfolio-company investments for the venture capital firm EQT Ventures, according to numbers first seen by Axios.

Why it matters: EQT Venture's home-brewed Motherbrain platform represents a notable effort to adapt machine learning to the failure-prone process of picking and choosing early-stage tech investments.

How it works: Motherbrain monitors over 10 million companies and takes data from dozens of structured and unstructured sources to identify patterns that may be useful as EQT Ventures searches for possible investments.

  • Part of Motherbrain's appeal is that it can locate companies for potential investments directly through data anywhere in the world, rather than relying on investor connections or geography.
  • "Motherbrain is part of our quest to do everything we do in a smarter way," says Henrik Landgren, an operating partner at EQT Ventures who leads the product work on Motherbrain.

Among the companies discovered with Motherbrain's help is Standard Cognition, which develops AI-powered autonomous checkout technology.

  • "[EQT Ventures] told us that 'Motherbrain informed us we had to talk to you,'" says Michael Suswal, co-founder and COO of Standard Cognition. "I felt flattered and it made me more interested in the firm. We probably wouldn't have connected with them if it wasn't for Motherbrain."

The bottom line: We often think of automation as outright replacing human jobs, but the Motherbrain platform is an example of another trend: augmenting how humans work.

Go deeper

In photos: Protesters rally for George Floyd ahead of Derek Chauvin's trial

Chaz Neal, a Redwing community activist, outside the Minnesota Governor's residence during a protest in support of George Floyd in St.Paul, Minnesota, on March 6. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

Dozens of protesters were rallying outside the Minnesota governor's mansion in St Paul Saturday, urging justice for George Floyd ahead of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's trial over the 46-year-old's death.

The big picture: Chauvin faces charges for second-degree murder and manslaughter over Floyd's death last May, which ignited massive nationwide and global protests against racism and for police reform. His trial is due to start this Monday, with jury selection procedures.

Biden says $1,400 stimulus payments can start going out this month

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

President Biden said Saturday that the Senate passage of his $1.9 trillion COVID relief package means the $1,400 direct payments for most Americans can begin going out later this month.

Driving the news: The Senate voted 50-49 Saturday to approve the sweeping legislation. The House is expected to pass the Senate's version of the bill next week before it heads to Biden's desk for his signature.

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