Top-10 Artificial Intelligence Startups in Ireland
The Irish are famous for their unadulterated love of sports, drinking, and fighting, something that’s personified in The Notorious himself. When they’re not involved in any (or all) of these activities, the Irish tend to be rather successful in the tech space – for a country with less than 5 million people (that’s about the same number of people that live in Alabama). You’ll find there are a significant number of corporations, startups, and academic institutions setting up shop in Ireland because the country has such a good social and legislative framework to do business in.
It has low taxes, a highly ranked education system, a youthful population, and an established tech framework in the private sector. However, there are concerns about a growing gap between Ireland and the rest of Europe in terms of AI adoption, and that may be due to a lack of national strategy for AI development. In order to see what foundation the Irish have to build on, we queried Crunchbase to find a list of the top Irish AI startups by funding, and here’s what we’ve found.
|Name||Application||City||Funding (USD millions)|
|Kitman Labs||Health sciences||Dublin||13.4|
|Voysis||Natural language processing||Dublin||8|
|Soapbox Labs||Voice recognition||Dublin||4.2|
|AYLIEN||Natural language processing||Dublin||3.5|
Founded in 2014, Dublin startup Nuritas has raised $61.5 million to develop an algorithmic approach for discovering bioactive peptides from food sources. Peptides are short chains of amino acids that are smaller than proteins, and some of these molecules have positive health effects for humans, animals, and plants. Nuritas uses predictive AI algorithms to find the right peptides delivering the desired effect for a predetermined health condition. The method is much quicker and more targeted than traditional trial-and-error discovery, and because extraction happens using everyday foodstuffs, it is also sustainable and scalable. Nuritas’ latest round of investment, $34 million that came in this November from the European Investment Bank, will allow the company to scale up the development of new therapeutics in fields like anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and diabetes treatment. The company has had early successes with diabetes prevention and the bacterial infection called MRSA, and is working in a close research partnership with Nestlé.
Founded in 2011, Dublin startup Boxever has raised $19 million in funding to develop a customer personalization marketing platform using big data analytics. Covered in our earlier article “Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the Travel Industry,” the company has been targeting airlines and travel operators since launch, as the industry typically doesn’t know a lot about its customers despite the abundance of data available in multiple disparate systems.
Boxever provides a solution to the problem with services including omnichannel personalization, customer segmentation, journey automation, and analytics. True real-time customer personalization delivers fast results: the company claims return on investment in only four weeks with an average revenue increase of 7% and waste reduction by 12%. The platform is sector agnostic, and Boxever is now expanding towards new industries like insurance, retail, and banking.
Founded in 2012, Dublin startup Kitman Labs has raised $13.4 million to develop a predictive model for athletes. The Athlete Optimization System employs machine learning combined with multivariate analysis (observation and analysis of more than one statistical variable at a time) to determine the risk of injury and minimize the chances of athletes dropping out of games.
Data gathering involves a short 60-90 second movement assessment in front of a Microsoft Connect camera, without the need for sensors. The rest is done by algorithms that deliver the risk assessment and actionable insights resulting in a 41% decrease in days lost to injury and a 31% decrease in severe injuries according to Kitman Labs. The platform also includes a statistical visualization tool for coaches. The company lists numerous world-class sports teams as clients including the Ireland rugby team, the Detroit Pistons basketball team, and the Everton Football Club. Based on what we saw in a recent Miami Dolphins game, it looks like the Americans are finally realizing the merits of rugby – a game played by real men and women who don’t need to wear pads and helmets like a bunch of pansies.
Founded in 2011, Dublin startup NewsWhip has raised $9.1 million to create a social media engagement tracking and prediction tool for brands, marketing agencies, and publishers. NewsWhip Spike is a product that tracks millions of stories across all the major social media platforms including the web to provide data analytics and predict which stories will be picked up based on historical trend outcomes. The platform follows more than 5 million stories daily and covers 168 countries in 66 languages with clients including huge publishers like Conde Nast and The Guardian, and also global brands like IBM, Nissan, and Walmart. The company website offers a huge variety of interesting research pieces that are worth a look – like one on snack flavors which talks about how pickle flavoring is coming through as the rising star of new snack flavors.
Founded in 2012, Dublin startup Voysis has raised $8 million to develop customized AI voice interfaces. Joining the smart voice assistant startups we covered in an earlier article, Voysis stands out from the crowd by training the voice interface to the specific domain of each client, equipping it with in-depth specialized knowledge. The platform is accessible through application programming interfaces (APIs), or a software developer toolkit, and is being targeted towards e-commerce customers. The team recently produced a voice synthesis algorithm that can run offline, even on low-performance mobile processors – something that even industry giants couldn’t solve because of high computational requirements. As we talked about recently, the ability to create duplicate people’s voices opens the door for all kinds of new scams.
We first came across Artomatix earlier this year in our article on “6 Startups Using Artificial Intelligence in Video.” Founded in 2014, the Dublin startup has raised an additional $3 million since then, bringing its total funding to $7.5 million. The team’s Artengine product suite automates slow and repetitive tasks for digital designers, allowing them to concentrate on the creative elements of the job. In 3D design, surface textures and background are either visibly repetitive, or they have to be generated manually, pixel by pixel.
Artengine’s algorithms can build realistic textures based on a surface photo alone, upgrade low-quality materials to higher resolution for re-use, or build new 3D objects solely based on a single two-dimensional photo. The tool is used in many fields that require digital 3D designs – like video games, automotive, fashion, and interior design. Artomatix claims the platform speeds up processing of raw scans by 50% in architecture and automates 90% of the workflow in fashion design.
Founded in 2013, Dublin startup Soapbox Labs has raised $4.2 million in funding to develop speech recognition technology for children. Because children have higher pitched voices and different speech patterns, the team had to rethink its approach to voice recognition and train its machine learning algorithms on proprietary children’s speech datasets.
Since real data is used, the results are very robust and work in real-world environments like classrooms and playgrounds. The voice recognition software can be used in voice control, entertainment and edutainment, as well as speech and pronunciation assessment for English language learning. Soapbox Labs’ cloud-based Application Programming Interface (API) allows developers to easily integrate the functionality into any device or software program.
Update 04/22/2020: SoapBox Labs has raised $6.5 million in Series A funding to work on literacy, language learning, and toys. This brings the company’s total funding to $11.8 million to date.
Founded in 2008, Dublin startup HeyStaks has raised $3.8 million to build an intent discovery platform using consumers’ search and browsing history, time, and location. Their Retina platform predicts user intent in real-time and can be used in targeted advertising and big data analytics (which, in turn, can be used for even more targeted ads for upselling and cross-selling). The company ensures that profiles are “pseudo-anonymized,” cannot be reverse engineered, and are compliant with data protection regulations like the EU’s recent GDPR.
HeyStaks’ target audience is mobile operators, because they have a unique position to capitalize on the information subscribers unwittingly share with them and take a piece of the $65 billion mobile advertising market. The company places emphasis on the timing of the ads as well, which is a key differentiator against its AI marketing competitors. The construction of the “online marketing echo chamber” continues in this brave new world.
Founded in 2003, Limerick startup NVMdurance has raised $3.6 million to develop a technology that optimizes the control parameters and extends the life of flash drives. The company works with NAND flash memory, the cheapest, most reliable type of memory that’s also used in Solid-State Drives (SSDs) that are replacing traditional hard disks right now.
According to NVMdurance, NAND flash is “the fastest-growing product in the history of the semiconductor market, reaching annual revenues of more than $10 billion” and is expected to grow at least 10% annually over the coming years. A major drawback of the technology is that as it scales, there is a significant impact on reliability, and endurance with data retention often being compromised. The team’s algorithms, powered by machine learning, counteract this problem by optimizing memory usage throughout the product lifecycle. NVMdurance is also offering similar solutions for the next generation flash drives called 3D NAND. Here’s a diagram that explains nothing but looks cool:
3D NAND offers even higher cell density (and storage capacity) but comes with increased error rates due to increased complexity. The company is automating the necessary steps for error prediction and correction, allowing high-reliability applications like datacenters to go to market faster. The company targets their solution towards major global NAND manufacturers including Intel, Samsung, and Toshiba.
Founded in 2012, Dublin startup AYLIEN has raised $3.5 million to develop content analysis tools powered by Natural Language Processing (NLP). The company’s tools help developers, data scientists, and marketers understand and analyze text-based content at scale.
AYLIEN offers APIs for general text analytics and news analytics that make huge amounts of content searchable, understand details like sentiment or entities involved, and can also summarize lengthy content. The company also offers a complimentary text analysis platform that allows the construction of custom NLP models. Aylien is used by companies like Sony, Deloitte, and American Express.
Ireland may not have a government-sponsored national AI strategy yet as lots of other countries do, but they have a thriving private sector ecosystem that’s just waiting for some direction. While a lot of other countries are struggling with building an education framework and acquiring talent, Ireland started its national AI Masters program and hopefully, they can keep all their talent from running off to Silicon Valley. They say that Irish men always fight amongst each other because that’s the only way they’ll find a fitting opponent. Let’s hope they adopt that same approach when it comes to keeping the best Irish talent within Ireland’s borders.
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