10 amazing European AI start-ups to watch

21 Feb 2019

Image: © ryanking999/Stock.adobe.com

Europe is awash with talent and technology in the AI space. Here are 10 European start-ups to watch in 2019.

There is a growing belief that the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution could be even more profound than the internet revolution.

While the technology is often characterised as a threat to traditional job security, if you look closely at this crop of European start-ups, their use of AI is about improving outcomes in everything from health and safety to better communications and creativity.

In other words, AI as a subject is very broad with a myriad of uses, and therefore could be put to work to augment human capabilities or solve big world problems.

Here are 10 European AI start-ups to watch in 2019.

Artomatix (Ireland)

Artomatix is a Dublin-based AI software firm whose flagship product, ArtEngine, automates up to 90pc of the most repetitive and time-consuming tasks in the 3D artistic workflow. Led by CEO Joe Blake, the company raised €2.7m last October in a round led by Suir Valley Ventures, and recently raised a further €3.2m in Government grants from the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund and the Fast Track to Innovation Fund.

BioBeats (UK)

London-based BioBeats is a medtech AI player that harnesses user data, AI and human insight to find patterns that link stress to health risks and physical outcomes. Founded in 2012, BioBeats is led by CEO Dr David Plans. It has raised $6.6m in funding so far, including a $3m in round last August led by Oxford Sciences Innovation, White Cloud and IQ Capital.

FaceMetrics (Poland)

Young girl in stripey top sits on a beige couch looking at an iPad.

Image: © STEheap/Stock.adobe.com

Founded in Belarus but based in Kraków, FaceMetrics has created an AI-powered parental app called Nicola for the iPad that gamifies and manages the screen time of children in a fully GDPR- and COPPA-compliant way. It uses AI to encourage children to read, not just game. The technology has been trained to track the features of the human face and recognise emotional responses. FaceMetrics last year raised $2m from Belarus investor VP Capital and Russia’s Larnabel Ventures.

Healx (UK)

Healx uses AI to discover and develop treatments for rare diseases by combining AI with pharmacological expertise and patient engagement. Founded in 2014 by Dr Andreas Bender, Dr David Brown and Dr Tim Guilliams, Healx has raised $11.9m, including a $10m Series A round led by Balderton Capital.

Huddly (Norway)

Founded in Oslo in 2013 by Anders Eikenes and Stein Ove Eriksen, Huddly is a vision technology company that combines hardware, software and AI to create intelligent camera systems. In 2017, it secured a major partnership with Google whereby its Go camera was chosen as an accessory of the Google Hangouts Meet kit, and it also secured $20m in two separate funding rounds. Last December it announced the acquisition of a Norwegian AI start-up called Epigram to further develop its intelligent camera technology.

Meero (France)

Meero uses AI algorithms to automate the processing of photo shoots from hours down to seconds. Meero was founded in 2016 and is led by CEO Thomas Rebaud. It has raised $63.4m in funding to date, including $45m in a series B round last year including Alven Capital and Idinvest Partners.

Nuritas (Ireland)

Dr Nora Khaldi, Nuritas

Dr Nora Khaldi speaking at Inspirefest 2016. Image: Conor McCabe Photography

Nuritas combines IT and life sciences expertise to mine DNA and protein data from plant materials in the hope of discovering new food components to help prevent, manage and possibly even cure disease. The company recently received the Best Use of AI in Sector award at the AI Awards Ireland 2018. Founded in 2014 by mathematician and bioinformatician Dr Nora Khaldi, Nuritas last year became the first Irish biotech to gain direct support from the European Investment Bank, with a funding round worth €30m. This is in addition to backing from U2’s Bono and The Edge as well as Salesforce’s Marc Benioff.

Soapbox Labs (Ireland)

Woman with brown hair in a black dress holds hands open during a speech on a stage.

Patricia Scanlon on stage at Inspirefest 2017. Image: Conor McCabe Photography

AI player Soapbox Labs is building speech technology specifically for young children to help with learning, literacy and much more. This groundbreaking work has led to founder Patricia Scanlon being recognised by Forbes magazine as one of the world’s top 50 women in tech. The company has raised $5.2m in funding to date from investors that include Astia Angels and EASME, the EU Executive Agency for SMEs.

Ultromics (UK)

Oxford-based Ultromics is using AI to diagnose coronary heart disease. The company claims to have created the world’s most accurate echocardiography software to improve diagnosis by more than 90pc. Founded in 2017 by Paul Leeson and Ross Upton, Ultromics last year raised £10m in an investment led by Oxford Sciences Innovation, bringing total funding in the company to £12m.

Webio (Ireland)

Webio is empowering companies to reach across messaging apps and voice interfaces such as Messenger, WhatsApp, Alexa and Google Home. Led by the executive team of Paul Sweeney, Graham Brierton, Mark Oppermann and Cormac O’Neill, Webio is using the power of AI to automate conversations via autonomous smart chatbots or blended live-agent engagement, while applying machine learning, natural language programming and its Propensity-X Indicator to deliver optimal customer conversation outcomes.

Want stories like this and more direct to your inbox? Sign up for Tech Trends, Silicon Republic’s weekly digest of need-to-know tech news.

Updated, 10.51am, 21 February 2019: This article was updated to clarify that Dr David Plans is the current CEO of BioBeats, not Iain Martin.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years