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The 10 Coolest AI Startups Of 2020 (So Far)

Dylan Martin

These artificial intelligence startups are making waves in 2020 between new funding rounds, corporate partnerships and product launches.

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Helping Organizations With Multiple AI Needs

The coronavirus pandemic may have disrupted how organizations plan to use artificial intelligence this year, but many technology executives see the technology as more important than ever, whether for accelerating research of COVID-19 and potential therapies, implementing new systems to aid with social distancing or powering everyday services that people use.

This means AI startups have a critical role to play in helping organizations build and deploy new models as well as ensuring that the underlying system training data remains clean and up to date. There's also a need to help organizations manage AI applications and run them across a variety of environments.

[Related: IBM CEO: Coronavirus Pandemic Accelerating Shift To Hybrid Cloud, AI ]

"Certainly the interest and demand for AI continues to be important for home assistants, for teleconferencing, for social media," Nvidia data center executive Ian Buck recently told CRN. "These are all areas where you and I interact every day and even more so now that we're home. And those same services hit the data center, hit the cloud, and, of course, need AI to process the data and make decisions, whether they be recommenders or content filtering and such things."

The following are the 10 coolest AI startups of 2020 so far.

´╗┐For more of the biggest startups, products and news stories of 2020, click here.  

Accern

Top Executive: Kumesh Aroomoogan, CEO

Accern is building a no-code artificial intelligence platform for the financial services industry that helps developers, data scientists and business analysts build and deploy models with ease.

The New York-based startup announced in May that it had raised a $13 million Series A funding round led by Fusion Fund, with participation from Mighty Capital, Allianz Life Ventures, Vectr Fintech Partners and Viaduct Ventures. Customers and strategic partners include IBM, Allianz, Jefferies, Google and Microsoft.

Accern's software consists of real-made solutions for asset management, banking and insurance verticals, giving professionals with varying degrees of technical experience the ability to build AI models for investment research, credit lending and financial crimes, among other things.

Brain Corp

Top Executive: Eugene Izhikevich, CEO

Brain Corp develops artificial intelligence software that helps autonomous mobile robots safely navigate public indoor spaces for a variety of purposes.

The San Diego, Calif.-based startup announced in April that it had raised a $36 million Series D funding round led by SoftBank's Vision Fund, with participation from other investors, including Qualcomm Ventures, ClearBridge Investments and Satwik Ventures.

The startup's BrainOS software has been used by several OEMs, including Tennant Company, Nilfisk, Dane Technologies and UniCarriers Americas, to deploy or enable more than 10,000 robots used by large companies like Walmart and Kroger.

Carbon Relay

Top Executive: Matt Provo, CEO

Carbon Relay provides machine learning and data science software that helps organizations optimize application performance in Kubernetes.

The Boston-based startup in February announced that it had raised $63 million in a funding round from Insight Partners that will help expand the company's Red Sky Ops AIOps solution.

The startup says Red Sky Ops makes it easy for DevOps teams to manage a large variety of application configurations in Kubernetes, which are automatically tuned for optimized performance, no matter what IT environment they're operating in.

Covariant

Top Executive: Peter Chen, CEO

Covariant provides artificial intelligence software that enables robots to see, reason and act autonomously in logistics and manufacturing environments.

The Berkeley, Calif.-based startup announced in May that it had raised $40 million in a Series B funding round, led by Index Ventures, with participation from Radical Ventures, Amplify Partners and other investors, bringing total funding to $67 million.

The startup's Covariant Brain software provides logistics robots with "universal AI," enabling capabilities such as 3D perception and real-time motion planning. The company says it has live deployments at facilities in North America and Europe for apparel, pharmaceutical and electronics companies.

DataRobot

Top Executive: Jeremy Achin, CEO

DataRobot provides an automated machine learning platform that removes the complexity from building and deploying models for advanced artificial intelligence applications.

After raising $206 million in a Series E funding round last year, the Boston-based startup has continued its acquisition spree, buying self-service data preparation and data fabric provider Paxata in December 2019 and Boston Consulting Group's SOURCE AI technology in June.

The startup has also expanded its end-to-end enterprise AI platform with new enhancements like AI applications for turning models into applications, visual AI for supporting computer vision use cases and automated deep learning for simplifying the construction of complex models.

DefinedCrowd

Top Executive: Daniela Braga, CEO

DefinedCrowd aims to help companies improve computer vision, natural language processing and other artificial intelligence applications with high-quality training data.

The Seattle-based startup announced in May that it raised $50.5 million in a Series B funding round from several investors including newcomers Semapa Next and Kibo Ventures as well as return investors Mastercard and Amazon Alexa Fund.

The startup says its 2019 revenue grew 656 percent year-over-year thanks to traction with Fortune 500 companies that are using the startup's model-training service for uses cases in customer service, automotive, retail and health care, among other verticals.

Domino Data Lab

Top Executive: Nick Elprin, CEO

Domino Data Lab provides a data science management platform that allows data science teams to collaborate on building, deploying and managing artificial intelligence models.

The San Francisco-based startup announced in June that it had raised a $43 million funding round led by Highland Capital Partners, with participation from Dell Technologies Capital, Sequoia Capital and Coatue Management.

With 20 Fortune 100 companies as customers, the startup recently expanded its offerings with the new Domino Model Monitor that allows data scientists to monitor the degradation of model accuracy as data patterns shift in the real world.

Iguazio

Top Executive: Asaf Somekh, CEO

Iguazio provides a data science platform that helps organizations run real-time artificial intelligence applications in multi-cloud, on-premise and edge deployments.

The startup, which has offices in Israel and New York, announced in January that it had raised $24 million in a funding round led by INCapital Ventures, with participation from other investors, including Samsung SDS, an IT services provider subsidiary of Samsung Group.

More recently, the startup announced a joint offering that combines its data science platform with Nvidia's DGX AI system and NetApp's storage, Ontap AI platform and NetApp Cloud to improve the efficiency of AI applications.

ModelOp

Top Executive: Pete Foley, CEO

ModelOp's software aims to help organizations automate the process of deploying and monitoring artificial intelligence models while improving governance and transparency.

The Chicago-based startup in March announced that it had closed a $6 million Series A funding round led by Valley Capital Partners, with participation from Silicon Valley Data Capital and other investors. The startup says its customers include five of the world's largest financial institutions as well as Fortune 500 manufacturers, insurers and credit bureaus.

SparkCognition

Top Executive: Amir Husain, CEO

SparkCognition develops artificial intelligence software that spans applications for predictive maintenance, endpoint security, natural language processing and machine learning model development.

After raising $100 million in a Series C funding round last year, the Austin-based startup is making major moves in 2020, including the formation of a new entity called SparkCognition Government Systems that supplies AI-powered systems to government and defense entities.

Most recently, the startup announced a new partnership that combines SparkCognition's DeepArmor cybersecurity capabilities and Siemens' operational technology expertise.

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