Top-10 Artificial Intelligence Startups in Denmark
Denmark might not be a leader in many key economic indicators on the global stage. Nor is it the flashiest country in terms of technology, startups, or finances. However, it is commonly referred to as the happiest country in the world. Among the many reasons cited are the strong welfare system, a superb education system, work-life balance, and the concept of hygge. Pronounced “hue-guh” it means living in the present, creating a sense of intimacy, and savoring the moment – something one cannot buy – and something most of us in ‘Murica could never dream of doing without meditation – or hard drugs.
Little daily pleasures don’t stand in the way of the Danes’ AI ambitions though. In early 2018, the Danish government released a Strategy for Denmark’s Digital Growth that focuses on AI, big data, and the Internet of Things. Its goals include making Danish businesses use technology better, setting the right conditions for the digital transformation of businesses, and ensuring the population has the necessary skills to compete. (In other words, they need to have a strategy in place to compete in the global AI race.) The government has also set aside $11 million for 2018, $19 million for the following years until 2025, and $11 million in perpetuity until the goals are met. Slow and steady wins the race, and Danish leaders seem to be convinced it’s worth going for the long haul. In order to see what’s happening in the world of cozy Danish AI startups, we did a quick search in Crunchbase:
The above list may not be completely accurate because not all startups keep Crunchbase updated. If we “missed” your cool Danish AI startup because you were too busy being happy instead of keeping Crunchbase updated, drop us a note and we’ll see if we can help you. (To mitigate this problem, we’re going to start working with the folks at Pitchbook to generate these lists in 2019.)
Founded in 2013, Copenhagen startup Blackwood Seven has raised $43 million in funding to develop a marketing media analytics platform. Its AI algorithms measure the effect of past media investments and run a multitude of investment scenarios to optimize and predict future outcomes. Analytics include sales achieved, cost-per-sale, and media ROI available at channel and single publisher levels. The platform measures the real sales effect of media campaigns by stripping out other external factors like seasonality, competitor activity, and macroeconomic peaks and troughs. Users set a sales target and Blackwood Seven’s algorithms suggest a campaign mix that’ll achieve it. This is where the service becomes a threat to traditional marketing agencies and their planning services. According to CEO Carl Erik Kjærsgaard, “spending $1 million involves around five thousand decisions,” and AI is much more equipped to deal with that than humans. The company is already present in the U.S. and across Europe, working with corporations like Vodafone, Volkswagen, and Telenor.
Founded in 2016, Copenhagen startup 2021.AI has raised $5.3 million to develop an industry-agnostic AI platform for the implementation of machine learning and data science projects for organizations of any size. The company’s Grace AI platform comes in three flavors, covering data science requirements from entry-level data analytics to huge collaborative, scalable, and secure enterprise projects. The team offers AI-as-a-service as well, covering AI opportunity discovery, proof of concept, and project execution. Use cases include customer segmentation, churn prediction, product placement, and fraud detection. 2021.AI lists regional banks Nordea and Saxo Bank as clients, as well as Erhvervsstyrelsen, the Business Authority of the Danish government. The company has partnered with Google Cloud to extend its enterprise offering, and Nordic management consultants Qvartz, to gain a foothold in the digital transformation and analytics consulting space. They’re similar to another startup we talked about recently, Dataiku, in both their service offering and the fact that they didn’t put a whole lot of thought into naming their company.
Founded in 2016, Copenhagen startup Forecast has raised $4.2 million in funding to develop a resource and project management platform for digital projects. The company was born from a university collaboration with a major Nordic financial institution. The client was running about 150 IT projects simultaneously, and four students of the University of Copenhagen came up with a tool that helped manage a project pipeline of this size giving rise to the first version of Forecast:
The application uses AI algorithms to automate what it can while making everything else as intuitive as possible. Features include organization-wide overviews, resource scheduling across projects, customized workflows, and scope forecasts and timelines. Users can slice-and-dice data down to the most granular level of a single employee. Pricing for Forecast starts at $19 per user, per month, for smaller teams along with custom pricing for enterprises.
Founded in 2017, Copenhagen startup Grandhood has raised $3.2 million to create an easy to understand, low-cost pension platform for European small and medium enterprises (SMEs). (Are pensions still a thing?) Grandhood’s app allows SMEs to sign up in a matter of minutes, and start making contributions instantly. It also simplifies investment choices and terminology, something that 96% of Danes find too complex and hard to decode. The company invests savings into Exchange Traded Funds, investment funds that typically track a broader market index. By investing in ETFs, Grandhood can offer lower management fees to small SMEs, a segment usually out of favor with the traditional pensions sector. Investments are determined using a combination of machine learning and modern asset management theory.
Founded in 2016, Copenhagen startup Cobiro has raised $3.2 million to develop an AI tool that automates the management of Google Ads for small businesses. On Google’s platform, advertisers bid on keywords so that their clickable ads appear in search results. Cobiro handles the creation, maintenance, and bid management for these ads, so that customers only need to set a target group and advertising budget, and create the text for the ad.
Besides its use in creating the advertisements, the AI algorithm also optimizes campaigns, making adjustments and improvements in real-time. The offering targets small and medium enterprises and basic access to the app for one user is free. The premium package goes for $50 a month and gives access to two additional users, advanced reporting, and custom feed integration. Cobiro’s main advantage is that laymen can use it without the need to understand the complexities of Google Ads. In fact, it’s so simple to use, that they say even an MBA can use it. According to the website, there are more than 25,000 small businesses using the service already.
Founded in 2012, Aarhus startup UNSILO has raised $3.1 million to develop tools for publishers using AI. The company offers a manuscript preparation, screening, and publication tool, and a classification service for existing content. Both of these employ unsupervised natural language processing and understanding techniques that are able to understand the meaning of phrases within a document. UNSILO constructs a mathematical model of semantic similarity that describes every concept identified in a client’s text corpus. For example, when a user searches for “project evaluation,” the results show documents that mention the expressions “project appraisal,” “feasibility study,” or “cost-benefit analysis.”
Other solutions analyze each individual word in isolation, but UNSILO looks at phrases and understands complex linguistic features like prepositions, negations, uncertainties, and attributions making the service more accurate than generalized deep learning solutions. The company’s manuscript tool helps scale capacities involved in manuscript evaluation and preparation, and is used extensively for academic papers. The corpus classification service helps content owners re-package and market pre-existing text corpus.
Founded in 2015, Copenhagen startup Dixa has raised $2.7 million in funding to develop a customer service platform powered by AI algorithms. Dixa unifies call center, contact center, and help desk functionalities, routes and prioritizes queries according to customer importance and agent skill, and personalizes customer conversations based on available data. The service is cloud-based so it doesn’t require an implementation project. Clients can enjoy the benefits like increased customer retention and conversion rates right away. The service has a tiered pricing structure starting at $15 per agent, per month. Sectors they target include retail, travel, and fashion, and customers include Bosch, the international electronics company, and Saxo Bank, a Nordic regional financial institution. Sounds similar to a startup we covered before called Afiniti.
Update 02/04/2020: Dixa has raised $36 million in Series B funding to continue making customer service more personal, intelligent, and data-driven. This brings the company’s total funding to $52.9 million to date.
Founded in 2016, Copenhagen startup Worksome has raised $2.1 million to build a recruitment platform using AI algorithms to match freelancers with jobs. The company promises that posted positions will be filled by a competent professional in 5 days, on location. Posting a job is free, and following a successful match, the platform charges a 4% commission on the wage (on average, traditional recruiters charge 15-25% of the annual salary). In return, Worksome also takes care of the contract and billing, making the onboarding process faster. The platform offers positions for a multitude of high qualification jobs like product management, IT development, design, and project management. Worksome has 6,000 freelancers and another 6,000 companies on board, and has recently expanded to the UK job market, hoping to “free up recruiters for more value-added tasks,” we assume.
Update 05/13/2021: Worksome has raised $13 million Series A funding to invest in marketing as well as to spend on product dev and on building out its team globally. This brings the company’s total funding to $18.9 million to date.
Founded in 2014, Copenhagen startup Rokoko has raised $2 million in funding to create motion capture hardware and software for the mass market. The company’s Smartsuit Pro is a black markerless jumpsuit that is easy to set up, intuitive to use, and offers all the perks of $100,000 studio equipment for a mere $2,500. It comes with Rokoko’s Studio app that allows the recording, manipulation, and playback of motion assets and also works as a design hub. Basic access to the software is free, and the price goes up to $100 per user, per month, for full functionality.
Rokoko also offers a Motion Library marketplace where creators of films and gaming content can browse quality motion assets created by professional studios. Like a stock photo provider but for human motion, the company sees itself transforming character animation by offering world-class assets for as little as $1 each, or $10 a month for database access. The team has opened a second office in San Francisco following their initial success. Sounds like one step closer to our vision of real-time virtual reality.
Founded in 2015, Copenhagen startup Hedia has raised $930,000 to create an app for type 1 diabetes patients. Developed jointly by healthcare professionals, IT developers, and patients, the app uses AI to pick up on patterns and habits of diabetics, and uses these patterns to make recommendations. Controlling insulin levels is a major issue for diabetes patients, and it’s a highly individual process.
The app calculates necessary insulin dosages based on carbs consumed, blood sugar level, activity, and insulin sensitivity. Learning from the data entered over time, it also notifies users of necessary blood sugar checks and keeps track of the amount of insulin left in the body at any given time. This allows patients to live a more normal, spontaneous life with the chronic illness until we find a cure for diabetes. The app is freely available for iOS.
We had one of our MBAs spend a month in Denmark last year, mingling with the locals and learning more about the culture. Turns out that the country is boring as hell on any day that doesn’t end in y, but the people are all educated and extremely bright, and there are loads of robotics technology startups to be found in the country’s second-largest city, Odense. (That’s the same city that we learned about a massive grow operation in progress.) If the plan to train a whole bunch of AI specialists goes well, it will provide a competitive edge for Denmark as many other countries lack talent at the moment, or they aren’t sharing their talent (cough, China, cough). We’re looking forward to seeing where the perpetual funding plan combined with laid-back professionalism will take Danish AI startups in the long run.
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