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Female-led Canadian startup Tech Spark AI snaps $1.4M for ChatGPT rival

Tech Spark AI founder
Picture credits: Tech Spark AI

Canadian artificial intelligence startup Tech Spark AI has reportedly secured $1.4 million in pre-seed funding. The investment round was led by TD Bank alongside participation from Salesforce, Canadian government, and NBA Canada. 

The investment will be used by Tech Spark AI to build a new generative AI platform dubbed Spark Plug. This platform will be a rival to OpenAI’s ChatGPT

Inclusive gen AI platform

Tech Spark AI was founded in 2015 in Ontario by Tamar Huggins along with her 13-year-old daughter Talia Grant. The company seeks to be a Black-owned alternative to the existing AI search platforms. Spark Plug has partnered with education institutions in the US and Canada. It focuses on schools in the underserved Black and brown communities. 

Trained by Huggins’ daughter, Spark Plug’s language model translates standard text to AAVE (African American Vernacular English). It is a dialect, which originated in the Black American community and used by the Gen Z internet users. It also involves authors from the Harlem Renaissance and activists from the Civil Rights Movement. 

While it is initially aimed at students, Spark Plug is available for everyone. They can use it as a web application, which functions the same way as ChatGPT. 

Helps students and teachers alike

Its offering for teachers, Tech Spark IGNITE enables teachers to create, connect, communicate and share their knowledge with students while assisting in representing a distinct cultural consciousness, that provides diverse and inclusive global perspectives. It equips Canadian teachers with unconventional resources and supports needed to better serve racially and linguistically diverse students.

Likewise, Tech Spark YOUTH focuses on building the important skills children need to become the innovators and creators of the future. Aligned with the Ontario School Curriculum, Tech Spark’s programs helps students to develop skills in empathy, creative and critical thinking, teamwork, problem solving, reflection, communication, expression and idea organisation.

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