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25 Top AI Startups

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The artificial intelligence market is seeing enormous excitement and interest – and investment.

Crunchbase, which follows the business of technology companies, puts the total amount of venture investment in AI in 2017 at just under $5 billion in approximately 750 companies, well up from the $3.3 billion in 450 companies in 2016.

While there is a healthy market for AI hardware, mostly silicon companies, the real action is in AI software. There’s more than we could hope to list, or for you to read without your eyes glazing over. For our methodology for picking these top AI startups, focused on three key criteria: 1) dominant players, 2) companies shipping product or close to it, and/or 3) those that have raised significant venture money.

These AI startups cover a wide swath of markets, industries, and functions. So we will try to avoid focusing on any one area, since AI is a technique that can apply to many (if not most) industries.

SenseTime

SenseTime develops face recognition technology that can be applied to payment and picture analysis. It is used in banks and security systems. It is the world’s highest-valued AI company with a valuation of over $4.5 billion and $1.2 billion in venture funding.

Flatiron Health

Uses machine learning to mine health data for cancer research, Flatiron finds cancer research information in near real time drawing on a variety of sources. The company raised more than $175 million in Series C funding before being acquired earlier this year by cancer research giant Roache.

Directly

Considered one of the best AI-driven customer support tool out there, Directly counts Microsoft as a customer. It helps its customers by intelligently routing their questions to chatbots to answer their questions personally or to customer support personnel.

Element AI

Element AI provides a platform for companies to build AI-powered solutions but may not have the talent in-house to do it. Element AI says it supports building apps for predictive modeling, forecasting modeling, conversational AI and natural language processing, image recognition and automatic tagging of attributes based on images.

H2O

H2O’s open source machine learning platform makes it easy for data scientists to build smart applications for Big Data application and use. Its platform is used for predictive analytics to predict fraud and customer churn. It has 14,000 customers total.

UiPath

UiPath makes an enterprise robotic process automation (RPA) software platform, including tools for robot licensing, provisioning, scheduling, monitoring and alerting. Its robots do the mundane work of communication between legacy apps so developers can focus on new AI-oriented apps.

Pony.ai

Pony.ai develops software for self-driving cars and was created by ex-Google and Baidu engineers who felt the big companies moved too slow. It has already made its first fully autonomous driving demonstration. It now operates a self-driving ride-sharing fleet in Guangzhou, China, using cars from a local auto maker.

C3 IoT

C3 IoT develops enterprise software and services for Internet of Things (IoT) sensors. It has a PaaS system for building Big Data, predictive analytics, AI, and IoT software as a service (SaaS) applications. Its platform offers predictive maintenance, sensor health, supply network optimization, inventory optimization, energy management, and AI-based CRM.

Banjo

Banjo offers an "event-detection engine" that draws on geolocated public posts made from mobile devices to tell you what is going on in your immediate area. It draws upon more than a dozen major social networks to give a live digital capture of everything that’s happening in the world and near you in real-time.

Tempus Labs

Tempus Labs applies machine learning to cancer diagnostics through tumor genome sequencing and the use of natural language processing and image recognition technology to collect, clean and analyze data. It uses the results of treatments from prior patients to help chart the course of treatment for new patients.

Stem

Stem is a veteran energy storage firm that has adopted AI to help automate energy management by using AI to determine when to charge energy storage systems and when to draw on them.

InsideSales.com

InsideSales.com is a sales acceleration platform that is a predictive and prescriptive self-learning engine by helping assist in a sale and providing guidance to the salesperson to help close the deal.

Dataminr

Dataminr is a global real-time information discovery company that monitors news feeds for high impact events and critical breaking news far faster than your Google News feed. It cuts through the clutter of non-news or irrelevant news to specific industries and only gives them highly relevant news when it happens.

HyperScience

HyperScience is designed to cut down on the tedium of mundane tasks like filling out forms or data entry of hand-written forms. It also processes the relevant information from forms rather than force a human to read through the whole form.

Vivint

Vivint’s Smart Home is the most popular smart home services in North America, with features like security cameras, heating and cooling management, door and window security and a remote speaker to talk to people at the door. All of this is monitored by AI which learns the residents’ behavioral patterns and adjusts management accordingly.

Anki

Not to be confused with the spaced repetition flashcard teaching program with the same name, Anki specializes in entertainment robotics for kids, or kids at heart. It uses a mixture of computer-vision, advanced robotics, and a set of machine-learning algorithms that Anki calls the "emotional engine" to make its robots have a personality.

CloudMinds

CloudMinds offers a cloud-based, end-to-end ecosystem for operating smart robots. Robots are controlled wirelessly through the cloud and via a blockchain-secured network.

Ayasdi

Ayasdi is a machine intelligence software company that offers intelligent applications to its clients around the world for using Big Data and complex data analytics problems, and to help customers automate what would be a manual processes of using their own unique data.

iCarbonX

iCarbonX is a China-based AI platform for health care designed to build an ecosystem of digital life based on the combination of consumers’ big life data, internet and artificial intelligence. The idea is that the individual will lead a healthy life through the digital life ecosystem and that by collecting data from of millions participants, new methods of health care can be found through data mining and machine learning.

CrowdStrike

This cloud-based SaaS firm focuses on endpoint security. CrowdStrike's Falcon platform enables it to identify what it calls active indicators of attack to detect malicious activity before a breach actually happens. It presents the network administrators with actionable intelligence of real time findings for them to take necessary action.

Cylance

Cylance develops security apps that prevent, rather than reactively detect, viruses and other malware. Using a mathematical learning process, Cylance identifies what is safe and what is a threat rather than operating from a blacklist or whitelist. The company claims its machine learning has an understanding of a hacker’s mentality to predict their behavior.

Tetra

Tetra uses AI to take notes on phone calls, so people working in call centers can focus on discussions with the callers. It uses AI to generate a detailed script of dialogues using its speech recognition technology.

Nuro

Nuro makes very small self-driving electric delivery trucks designed for local deliveries, such as groceries or takeout. Its founders previously worked on Google’s Waymo self-driving car project.               

SoundHound

SoundHound started as a Shazam-like song recognition app called Midomi, but it has expanded to answering complex voice prompts like Siri and Cortana. But instead of converting language into text like most virtual assistants do, the app's AI combines voice recognition and language understanding into single step.

Freenome

Most cancer detection methods focus on detecting the existence of cancer, but Freenome goes one step further by identifying where the bad tissue is or is likely to be-located, helping identify what may be potential or future cancers. It also looks for markers to determine whether it may be malignant or benign. By using machine learning, its software becomes better at screening as it performs more scans.

Bowery Farming

Instead of farms covering acres of open space, Bowery Farming is focused on indoor, vertical farms. Sensors collect data points regarding factors like humidity, temperature, and light. Cameras note minor changes in the plants, and thanks to AI visual recognition, changes can be noted and addressed quickly.

Provider

Industry/Sector

Funding (or valuation)

Notable Investors

SenseTime                

Facial recognition

$4.5 billion valuation

Alibaba, Qualcomm

Flatiron Health

Cancer research

Acquired for $1.9 billion

Purchased by Roche

Directly

Intelligent customer service

$35 million

 

Element AI

AI development platform

$102 million

Intel, Microsoft, Nvidia

H2O

Machine Learning app platform

$75 million

Wells Fargo, Nvidia

UiPath

Development of software robots

$1 billion valuation

Accel, Credo Ventures, Earlybird

Pony.ai

Components for self-driving cars

$112 million

Morningside Venture Capital

C3 IoT

IoT development platform

$1.2 billion valuation

Breyer Capital and Sutter Hill.

Banjo

Event- and location-based social network

$121 million

Softbank

Tempus Labs

Cancer diagnostics

$1.1 billion valuation

Revolution Ventures

Stem

Smart energy storage and management

$295 million

Activate Capital Partners, Starwood Energy Group

InsideSales.com

Predictive sales assistance

$201 million

Salesforce, Polaris Partners

Dataminr

Intelligent news feed

$700 million

Fidelity, Venrock

HyperScience

Forms management and info extraction

$18.9 million

Felicis Ventures, Firstmark

Vivint

Smart home management

$3 billion valuation

Blackstone Group

Anki

Entertainment robotics for kids

$157 million

JP Morgan Chase, Andreessen Horowitz

CloudMinds

End-to-end smart robot management

$131 million

Foxconn, Softbank

Ayasdi

Big Data analysis and action

$106 million

Kleiner Perkins

iCarbonX

Intelligent health care and management

$1 billion valuation

Tencent, Zhongyuan Union, Tianfu Group

CrowdStrike

Endpoint security

$3 billion valuation

Accel, IVP, Alphabet

Cylance

Smart malware and intrusion detection

$3 billion valuation

Blackstone

Tetra

Phone conversation recording and transcription

Undisclosed

 

Nuro

Small self-driving trucks

$92 million

Banyan Capital and Greylock Partners

SoundHound

Voice command recognition

$1 billion valuation

TransLink Capital, Global Capital Partners

Freenome

Cancer detection and prediction

$65 million

Andreessen Horowitz

Bowery Farming

Intelligent agriculture

$31 million

General Catalyst

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