25 interesting European AI start-ups to watch in 2017

22 Mar 2017

Image: agsandrew/Shutterstock

Europe is a hotbed of AI innovation. Here are 25 AI start-ups to watch out for in 2017 and beyond.

There are literally hundreds of promising companies pushing the boundaries of artificial intelligence and machine learning in Europe.

We’ve included a number of Israel-based start-ups because they too fall into the sphere of influence of European investors. And, judging by recent acquisitions of Israel-based machine vision and AI companies by players like Apple and Intel, they are definitely producing the goods.

There are quite a few Dublin and Northern Ireland companies in there too, carrying the torch sparked by forerunners like Movidius, acquired last year by Intel for a rumoured sum of $300m.

If there was a time to be alive when the technology revolution is burning at its most fierce, it is now.

The revolution has shifted from computers in server halls and at desks to delivering the power of supercomputing to the device in your pocket, on your wrist, in your car or in your building.

Making sense of all the data are powerful artificial intelligence and machine-learning algorithms, turning technology from a request into a conversation.

Intelligent chatbots can advise you on how to run your finances or your business, build better products, make better drugs or find a diamond of truth in the coal.

Here are the start-ups to watch in all of these areas.


Amsterdam-based Aigency helps start-ups to build algorithms, bots and other AI tools by acting as a kind of middle man.

It earns revenues through a pay-per-use model using blockchain-based smart contracts, and takes a 10-20pc commission.


Dr Eric Risser and Neal O’Gorman, founders of Artomatix. Image: Artomatix

Founded by Trinity College Dublin PhD graduate Eric Risser, Artomatix is on its way to help define the future of entertainment and design.

The company’s technology uses AI to help game designers and Hollywood create hyper-realistic 3D worlds.

Artomatix, a previous Siliconrepublic.com Start-up of the Week, counts several Fortune 500 companies among its initial clients.

The company recently raised €2.1m in a seed round.


Parsa Ghaffari, CEO and co-founder, Aylien. Image: Aylien

Dublin-based Aylien is an AI-start-up with no shortage of global ambition.

In March last year, Aylien secured a round of international funding worth €580,000, with eight new jobs to be added before 2017.

Aylien’s technology is focused on developing a text and image analysis API that allows developers and data scientists to filter and make sense of massive amounts of textual data. The company was founded by Parsa Ghaffari and has thousands of customers worldwide.

Babylon Health

Babylon Health is a digital doctor app that enables GP video calling and AI diagnoses, revolutionising the world of healthcare.

The London start-up was founded by Ali Parsa in 2013 and, in January 2016, it raised $25m in Series A funding.

Babylon Health recently partnered with the UK NHS to trial an AI-powered chatbot to act as an alternative for a telephone helpline, offering healthcare advice.


Image: BrainWaveBank

Belfast-based BrainWaveBank builds tools for analysing brain health, especially dementia.

The company, which has just raised £1m from Angel CoFund and techstartNI, says its machine learning techniques detect cognitive decline at an early stage.

It has created a wearable that pairs with a user’s smartphone and monitors their brain activity while playing video games.


One of the UK’s best-funded AI start-ups, BenevolentAI recently raised £72m in a single, undisclosed round. It is using artificial intelligence to revolutionise the drug delivery process.

Working with players from Johnson & Johnson to Janssen, the company is investigating how AI can accelerate bioscience discoveries in the field of genomics. Using deep learning and supercomputers, BenevolentAI builds tools that enable scietists to easily mine and interrogate data and speed up the time to market for important drugs.


Developed by computer science graduates Barney Hussey-Yeo and Aleksandra Wozniak, Cleo uses deep learning and AI to help ordinary users master their finances.

Designed to help you be smarter with your money, the chatbot app acts like a user’s personal team of McKinsey consultants to advise them on their money and spending habits.

In recent months, the company landed $700,000 in funding from investors including Skype founder Niklas Zennström.


Dataiku is the French start-up behind Data Science Studio (DSS), a predictive analytics software platform built to be for data scientists what Photoshop is to designers.

DSS helps users get from dirty data to insight with less hassle. The software shortens the steps from raw data to up-and-running data-driven applications and, with a visual and interactive workspace, aims to be accessible for data scientists and business analysts alike.

Founded by Clément Stenac, Marc Batty, Thomas Cabrol and Florian Douetteau in 2013, Dataiku raised €3.2m seed funding in January 2015 and closed 2016 with a $14m Series A round.


Cambridge-based Darktrace uses AI techniques and machine-learning algorithms to spot patterns and catch cyber criminals before they can attack. Last year, the company raised $65m in investment in a round led by KKR.

Based on advanced machine learning and mathematics developed at the University of Cambridge, and with customers including BT, Virgin Trains and Drax, Darktrace says it is changing the way cybersecurity is approached as the market transitions to a new model based on early-stage detection of cyber threats that bypass traditional controls.


Mock-up of Dragonera platform from Dragonera.com

Image: Dragonera.com

Israel-based Dragonera has developed a software platform driven by AI that can automate up to 70pc of the early development of a new software product. The platform can be used to build prototypes and final production products at a lower cost.

Based in Tel Aviv, Dragonera was founded in 2016 and has just raised $3m in a round led by Singulariteam.


DigitalGenius’s Human+AI platform integrates with existing CRM tools to give human operators some chatbot assistance for the more repetitive parts of customer service.

The company hit the headlines last year when it helped Dutch airline KLM to incorporate machine learning into its customer service offerings.

Founded by CEO Dmitry Aksenov and San Francisco-based Mikhail Naumov, the start-up secured $4.1m in seed investment in April 2016, with Salesforce Ventures among its cohort of backers.


An AI platform for the publishing industry, Echobox claims to accurately predict the virality of any article and when precisely to post a story for the maximum traffic.

The company’s clients include Le Monde, Le Figaro, Axel Springer and San Jose Mercury News.

The London-based company raised $3.4m last year in a round led by Mangrove Capital Partners, with participation from Saul and Robin Klein’s LocalGlobe.

Genomics Medicine Ireland

From left: Co-founders of Genomics Medicine Ireland, Daniel Crowley, Paul Thurk, Sean Ennis and Maurice Treacy with An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, TD. Image: Conor McCabe Photography

Genomics Medicine Ireland is collecting, managing and analysing data from the human genome in order to better understand the role of genetics in disease and rare conditions, and to lead to new prevention strategies and treatments.

Investors include Google Ventures, the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, ARCH Venture Partners and Polaris Partners.

The company was founded in Ireland last year by a group of leading life science entrepreneurs, investors and researchers, and its platform is based on work from Amgen subsidiary DeCode Genetics in Iceland. It recently raised $40m in Series A funding from investors, announcing 150 new jobs.


Designed to make networking at events more productive, London and Copenhagen-based Grip uses AI to gather social media data and play the role of ‘Tinder for networking’.

Using a similar swipe interface to Tinder, Grip also delivers reports back to event organisers on the level of engagement.

“Grip unlocks valuable connections at your event, saving attendees time and hard work,” the company said.

Grip merged with Intros.at in 2015.


Tel Aviv-based Knowmail provides personal messaging solutions using AI to increase productivity.

It acts as a personal assistant helping people to communicate and collaborate more efficiently.

It has just raised $3.5m in a funding round led by CE Ventures.


Phrasee uses AI to write better marketing language than humans, and it boast a who’s who of large global brands on their client roster, including Virgin, UBM and Euromoney.

Launched in 2015, Phrasee employees 15 people in Putney, London. The company won the ‘Best New Business’ and ‘Tech Entrepreneur of the Year’ awards at the inaugural UK Business Awards in November 2016.

Last July, Phrasee closed a £1m seed funding round led by Next 15. It was the first venture capital investment in the UK’s technology sector after the Brexit referendum.


Berlin-based IoT platform provider Relayr develops IoT solutions to digitise physical objects with a cloud platform that communicates from any-to-any (that’s any service, any software, any platform, any sensor).

It recently announced its acquisition of Munich-based Neokami, an artificial intelligence data security company.

The Neokami acquisition will integrate excellent security, machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities to Relayr’s products.

Signal Media

UK start-up Signal Media uses artificial intelligence to scan and analyse over 2m articles a day from 2.7m websites, 67,000 print feeds and 300 broadcast channels to provide curated information for various sectors.

The company has just raised £5.8m and investors include MMC Ventures, Hearst Ventures, Frontline Ventures, Elsevier Ventures and Local Globe.


Focused on bringing AI and machine-learning capabilities into the enterprise, Seldon creates open source tools that help data scientists derive value from big data.

Emerging from the Barclays incubator in London, Seldon has raised two undisclosed funding rounds from Techstars.

The platform can recommend actions based on the data it has crunched and can also make predictions such as what products customers are likely to buy.


Stepsize uses AI to solve a problem that has been vexing software developers for years. It adds context to code bases so developers have a better view of who wrote code, when and why.

“Since these questions emerge from the code, we aggregate metadata from the tools they use daily and provide a context layer available directly from their editor,” the company explains.

“Over time, we’ll introduce intelligent assistive products to automate the vast majority of what is known today as software development.”


Luxembourg-based social data listening platform Talkwalker uses advanced AI to analyse and monitor conversations on social networks, news websites, blogs and forums in over 187 languages.

Its servers process 500m posts from 150m websites every day and its clients include Microsoft, Benetton, Publicis, Ogilvy and Weber Shandwick.

The company has just raised €5m which will mostly be invested in its artificial intellgience capabilities as well as new features like image recognition and IQ apps.


Screenshot from Tractable.ai website

Image: Tractable.ai

Tractable builds deep learning tools for visual inspection that can perform faster, cheaper and more accurately than humans.

Their technology automates an expert’s task at what it claims is near zero marginal cost. “Our AI understands images like experts do. But it can assess thousands, in seconds, with razor-sharp accuracy. So your organisation can perform like never before,” so they say.

Tractable raised $1.9m a year ago in a round leet by Zetta Venture Partners.


London-based Onfido uses machine intelligence and AI to help companies verify that candidates for jobs are exactly who they say they are.

Founded in 2012 by Oxford graduates Husayn Kassai (CEO), Eamon Jubbawy and Ruhul Amin, Onfido has helped clients such as Morgan McKinley, JustGiving and Hassle.com to run background checks.

Onfido has raised more than $30m in funding to date.


Photo of Yedup founders Dr Martin Spollen and Paul McWilliams

From left: Yedup founders Dr Martin Spollen and Paul McWilliams. Image: Yedup

AI research start-up Yedup was founded by Dr Martin Spollen and Paul McWilliams in 2015. Yedup uses social media analytics to detect trends and gain valuable customer information.

Last year, it launched its SodaBread API to monitor global social media content continually and in real-time for hedge fund clients as well as high-frequency traders and algorithmic trading.

Last month, Yedup was named the best New Start company in the regional NI category at the InterTrade Ireland Seedcorn awards, securing a €20,000 cash prize to finance its future ventures.


Screenshot of Zeitgold website

Image: Zeitgold.com

German start-up Zeitgold uses artificial intelligence to help small business owners reduce paperwork and claims to save some owner-managers up to 10 hours per week.

The Berlin company recently closed a €4.2m seed round led by Holtzbrinck Ventures and Battery Ventures.

It was founded in 2015 and employs a team of 20 people.

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