All the big tech players from Apple and Microsoft to Twitter & Facebook have been snapping up AI start-ups – paying through the nose to not only acquire machine learning IP but also to land grab talent, which is few and far between.
Four of the largest AI acquisitions in recent years have come from the UK, starting with Google’s whopping £400m purchase of DeepMind in 2014. Since then Apple has pulled out the cheque book for Cambridge University NLP processing specialists, VocalIQ. Twitter acquired Magic Pony and Microsoft snapped up SwiftKey – the first machine learning keyboard.
Here are the next batch of AI start-ups that are ripe for acquisition:
Run by Cambridge graduates, Darktrace is a security start-up that uses ML to catch cyber criminals before they hit. Darktrace uses various AI techniques to understand what is ‘normal’ within a company’s network, so that it can quickly find anomalies.
Cyber security is a hot topic, which is why it wasn’t surprising when the company raised a whopping £58m in July this year – this puts the company at a valuation of £639m.
Digital Genius works to optimise contact centres by using deep learning technology. Their neural networks help contact agents respond to common customer service questions by first automatically sorting and labelling meta-data and then generating the best three response. Each response has a confidence level attached- allowing companies to decide what threshold to set for automation of responses.
The start-up claims it can reduce chat handling times by 20 percent and has already raised £8m to-date from investors including Unilever, KLM and Salesforce.
Onfido has exploded in recent years thanks to the rise in the gig economy. Having just raised £19m in April, the company, founded by a trio of Oxford grads, plugs into various publicly available databases to give employers quick ID and background checks.
In their own words, Onfido’s “intelligent software revolutionises the archaic background checking industry through automated data aggregation and verification”.
The company is currently hiring swathes of machine learning experts to build on the smart platform.
re:infer is in private beta, but are working with some huge ecommerce brands including Farfetch. Developed by UCL graduates, the company specialises in building super smart AI chatbots that are built using deep neural network technology. The re:infer platform also includes data analytics and feedback on the performance of the chatbot. re:infer have raised £65,000 in seed funding from the Seedcamp incubator.
Phrasee, who recently raised £1m in seed funding, is aiming its AI systems at the content marketing sector. Their NLP techniques are used to optimise digital marketing messages, the AI engine simulates millions of permutations of copy and makes predictions based on historic data on what version will perform best based on your KPI’s. And the more you use Phrasee, the better, as the results are constantly fed back into the algorithm as a feedback loop.
Ravelin was founded by former Hailo employees who realised that anti-fraud technology really wasn’t fit for the on-demand economy. Unlike payment processors like Stripe, who tend to analyse transactions, Ravelin looks at customer attributes. Their machine-learning algorithms are integrated with customer data and in real-time can detect potentially fraudulent transactions. Ravelin have already raised £3m and early customers include EasyTaxi and Deliveroo.
Verv are a London-based team that have developed a home energy assistant that provides information on household appliances to help customers reduce their carbon footprint and their energy bills. The company uses AI to provide real-time data on how much power and money each device in the home is using.
Verv claims that it can sample data more than a million times faster than any smart meter and can even notify the user when a device is deteriorating.
Verv was part of the Launchpad accelerator run by Google and in September this year raised £500k on Crowdcube – the crowdfunding platform. You can currently pre-order the plug and play solution for £249.
Kwiziq was founded in 2012, so in terms of the AI market, is relatively old. Their technology provides a personalised learning experience for students based on their own individual needs – think of them as the Adobe Target equivalent of learning – 1:1 personalisation at scale.
Kwiziq provides students with micro quizzes that are turned into detailed “brainmaps” that give tailored instructions and evolves as they improve. Teachers receive detailed reports on the progress of each of their students and can customise lesson plans to suit the needs of the class.
If you run networking events, you should speak with Grip. The London-based start-up is using AI to make them more productive. Formerly known as ‘Networkr’ – the AI company collects data from LinkedIn and Twitter to act as a smart matchmaking service.
Think ‘Tinder for networking’, users swipe right for those they would like to network with & Grip delivers a report back to the event organiser on how successful the event has been for every user.
Grip merged with Intros.at in 2015 and is looking to raise funding later this year. The company is already cash positive and is working with the likes of Cannes Lions and Reed Exhibitions.
IntelligentX Brewing Co.
Craft beer is all the rage, so it’s no surprise that a company decided to apply AI technology to the brewing process.
The company – set-up by an Oxford grad computer scientist and an ex-M&C Saatchi director – provide drinkers with a sample of four beers per brewery, they are then asked to review each beer via an online feedback system. Machine learning algorithms then process the information, and send it back to the brewers, who add it to the recipe. The continuous feedback loops allows brewers to make the perfect beer.