AI start-up secures EU funding to develop research finding platform

11 Jan 2023

Image: © New Africa/Stock.adobe.com

Iris.ai said its AI platform cuts down research times by categorising and summarising vast amounts of research data.

Norwegian AI start-up Iris.ai is set to receive an EU grant and equity funding to develop its research paper search platform.

The funding comes from the European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator programmme which provides grant funding of up to €2.5m, combined with an EIC Fund equity investment ranging from €500,000 to €15m in a blended finance offer.

Iris.ai said it has been selected for a €2.4m grant and up to €12m in equity investments from the EIC Accelerator. The company has developed a platform that uses AI language models to categorise, navigate and summarise various research documents, such as patents and academic papers.

The start-up said this solves a major problem for researchers, who usually have to find relevant research amid a massive amount of data being published globally. The company claims its platform is used by hundreds of universities and companies to cut down research times.

Iris.ai plans to use the funding to further map out the vast amount of research data available. The company’s CEO and co-founder, Anita Schjøll Abildgaard, said the goal is to build a “complete AI researcher” that can help humans make sense of the “totality of the world’s scientific knowledge”.

Schjøll Abildgaard said the concept of language models was less known when Iris.ai was founded in 2015, but that the ecosystem has “grown exponentially”. However, other models don’t work for science as they “generate mistruths” and misinterpret scientific texts.

“What we’re doing differently is we are working on factuality validation and injection of externally validated knowledge – creating a trustworthy system that can be relied upon for analysing scientific research,” Schjøll Abildgaard said.

Large language models have faced controversy in the past for generating false or misleading information.

Last November, a demo for Meta’s Galactica AI was pulled after only three days for posting inaccurate content. The science-focused model was met with criticism from users who said it generated misleading content that looked real but was essentially “pseudo-science”.

Last month, OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot was temporarily banned from Stack Overflow over concerns about inaccurate content.

Iris.ai received the latest funding from the final 2022 funding round of the EIC Accelerator, which is set to give €470m to 78 companies. The only Irish company among this cohort was Vaultree, the Cork-based cybersecurity start-up that closed a $12.8m funding round last month.

Last October, three Irish companies backed by Enterprise Ireland received a total of €24.3m from the EIC Accelerator’s second round.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com