Top-10 Artificial Intelligence Startups in Portugal
Indonesia is a massive country with 17,508 islands, only three of which are shared with other countries. One of those is the island of Timor where a small country exists called Timor-Leste. The restaurants serve Portuguese food, the people speak Portuguese, and 97% of the population is Roman Catholic. You get the same sort of feeling in Macau, another Portuguese enclave in Asia where the Chinese go to lose all their money. Portugal was the first global empire ever, leading the European exploration of the world in the 15th century. Consequently, Portuguese is the world’s sixth most spoken language. Since being bruised and battered during the financial crisis of 2008, Portugal has only recently exited the European Union’s excessive deficit procedure in 2017. Now, the country is turning to AI to turn over a new leaf.
In February 2019, Portugal released an AI strategy as part of its National Initiative on Digital Skills which ties into a wider strategy presented by the European Union in late 2018. Short to medium-term objectives of the plan include the establishment of centers of excellence for AI research, promoting digital skills and education, implementing AI in the public administration, and the creation of new funding opportunities. We queried Crunchbase to find the largest AI startups in Portugal based on disclosed funding.
|Name||Application||City||Funding (USD millions)|
|Stratio Automotive||Automotive Predictive Maintenance||Lisbon||3.5|
|PLUX||Healthcare||Arruda dos Vinhos||1.0|
|BITCLIQ||Fishing||Caldas da Rainha||0.7|
Founded in 2013, Lisbon startup Unbabel has raised $31.2 million to develop a hybrid translation service that uses AI algorithms to automatically draft a translation which is then broken up into smaller segments and sent to human editors who finalize the draft. Since we last featured Unbabel in our article on 7 Machine Language Translator Startups, they’ve moved away from general translation work and are now offering services to customer support organizations only, translating customer tickets, chat messages, and frequently asked questions for companies. When a customer sends a message, it is delivered to support staff in the requested language in seconds, and replies are translated back to the original request’s language. Unbabel’s platform integrates with leading CRM systems like Salesforce and Zendesk to ensure smooth information transfer and quick turnaround. The subscription-based service is used by global brands Booking.com, Microsoft, and easyJet.
Founded in 2009, Porto startup Movvo has raised $8.7 million to develop behavioral analytics solutions for the retail and real estate industries. The startup tracks the movement of shoppers in physical locations like stores, shopping malls, and city areas using sensors which register how people move, the sequence and length of their stops, and when they speed up or slow down. Movvo then boosts this data from external sources like mobile phone carriers and payment providers, and runs AI-powered analytics to find out how these physical spaces engage consumers. Results are presented in visual dashboards that help retailers and real estate operators customize and improve the consumer experience.
One of Movvo’s projects involved measuring visitor behavior in Surfers Paradise, a popular tourist destination on the Gold Coast of Australia. The startup worked with the local council to install sensors, analyze which stores, events, and services drove engagement from the crowds, and measure the efficiency of the marketing spend. The project was deemed a success, and the Gold Coast council is rolling out the technology to other tourist locations along the coast.
Founded in 2017, Lisbon startup Stratio Automotive has raised $3.5 million to develop an early fault detection system for the transportation industry. The startup’s sensors collect data on vehicle components like battery, engine, transmission, and brakes in real-time, which is then analyzed by machine learning algorithms for fault detection. Users receive alerts through a web interface, email, and text, and can also see granular operational analytics via a dedicated dashboard.
The company targets vehicle manufacturers and fleet operators, though the system can also be retrofitted for cars where it uses sensors already fitted by other providers. Stratio has offices in the US, UK, and Spain besides its headquarters in Portugal.
Founded in 2013, Coimbra startup Perceive3D has raised $2.8 million to develop intelligent video technology for surgical procedures involving endoscopy. The startup’s algorithms enhance imaging in the operating room by brightening and sharpening images, correcting for the fish-eye effect of the equipment, and mapping contrasting colors to anatomic elements.
Perceive3D also offers Augmented Reality (AR) tools on the back of its image processing capabilities that assist surgeons with joint and knee surgery by accurately visualizing patient anatomy and overlaying the image with AR pointers. The company’s AR technology has been successfully tested on a cadaver, January this year, and will be available to surgeons by 2020 according to the startup’s CEO. Sounds similar to the sort of surgical imaging technology we saw on display at Stanford this spring.
Founded in 2012, Coimbra startup Wizdee has raised $2 million to develop a business intelligence platform that users can navigate using natural language. Wizdee aggregates data from different IT systems like SAP, Oracle, and Salesforce, and customers simply query the system using voice or text. For example, typing “sales by product in the last month” will display the information using the most appropriate visualization. Customers can then use the intuitive point-and-click interface to drill down into charts and reports, share information with colleagues, or create a related dashboard. Wizdee is currently looking for resellers and IT system providers to partner with, and create joint out-of-the-box solutions together.
Founded in 2014, Sintra startup Agroop has raised $1.3 million through equity crowdfunding channel Seedrs to develop an Internet of Things crop monitoring system for farmers. The startup’s sensors measure solar radiation and the temperature and humidity of the air and soil in the fields and send this data to Agroop’s software. The app’s algorithms analyze crop irrigation needs, predict risk factors like diseases and pests, and optimize production parameters. In a recent case study involving a Portuguese farmers’ association, the precision farming platform managed to save 32% in water and energy costs while increasing net production and the quality of the crops.
The software also offers an overview of plots, farms, and farmers under management, and is able to analyze data from the nearest weather station independent of sensors. The system is available on smartphone, tablet, and computer and costs $220 per year, per sensor. Sounds similar to other startups we’ve seen using IoT for agriculture.
Founded in 2007, Arruda dos Vinhos startup PLUX has raised $1 million to develop biometric measurement systems and associated analytical algorithms. The company’s body sensors measure data like respiration, the electrical activity of the heart and skeletal muscles, and the movement and acceleration of body parts to aid physiotherapists and researchers in developing new medical solutions for patients.
PLUX’s sensor packs come with software that visualizes and analyzes these biosignals, or you can opt for custom sensor and algorithm development for specific R&D projects. Global clients include the likes of Intel and Vodafone with whom PLUX has developed wearables for patient monitoring, therapy management, and hands-free control of devices.
Founded in 2014, Lisbon startup Liquid has raised $1 million to develop a personalization and marketing tool for mobile apps. The startup’s algorithms analyze user behavior in detail and segment users accordingly. These segments are then contacted using in-app messages and push notifications according to pre-defined rules with the goal of driving engagement, retention, and monetization.
For example, new customers could be offered a personalized discount in the first three months of using the app to drive their first purchase. Customers that have a high churn probability can be re-targeted by reminding them of the benefits of the app. Customers who have never used a particular app feature can be reminded to check it out when they open the app. Segmentation is automated and rule setting happens in an easy point-and-click environment. The service is free for apps below 5,000 monthly active users and 1 million data points, then priced on a case-by-case basis. Reference clients of Liquid are mainly startups, including leading money transfer service WeTransfer.
Founded in 2013, Caldas da Rainha startup BITCLIQ has raised $680,000 to develop a blockchain marketplace for fish trading that connects fishing fleets with buyers and allows the purchase of fish the moment they are caught at sea by retailers or restaurants. The intelligent marketplace records the catch, lists the fish customers are looking for the most, and allows automatic auctions – which is where the AI part comes in.
BITCLIQ’s solutions provide complete traceability of a fish from catch location to table, and buyers are automatically notified about how trustworthy suppliers are which increases supply chain transparency. The platform is currently being tested in the Portuguese port of Peniche in collaboration with the state-owned primary wholesaler and quality assurance entity for fish.
Founded in 2013, Porto startup HealthyRoad has raised $600,000 to develop facial biometric technology for the automotive sector that recognizes when a driver is drowsy, tired, distracted, or stressed. The system alerts the driver of dangerous driving behavior and connects to other sensors in a car that can take action if necessary. In addition to watching out for behavioral signals, the platform also collects GPS and driving data and sends it to the cloud in real-time for analysis to encourage the adoption of safer driving behavior. The startup is still in stealth mode and its website promises the system will be available “soon”. No word on how soon it will be before it can sniff out just how many glasses of port you threw back over lunch.
Nations have been vying for land ownership and control over resources since the dawn of mankind, and today that “new world” we’re all competing for is the “the global AI race.” As it’s been over the centuries, there is no winner takes all. Hopefully, we will see some “comparative advantage” on display, where each nation does what their best at allowing for everyone to compete at some level. The Portuguese appear to be doing a little of everything when it comes to AI, and it’s not just in the capital Lisbon but throughout the entire country. Their proximity to other developed countries in Europe bodes well for international expansion, not to mention Brazil where both countries share the same language and the population is twenty times larger.
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