Skymind, the world’s leading open-source enterprise deep-learning software company and the first dedicated AI ecosystem builder, has recently unveiled the first cohort of investments from its $800 million AI fund, which backs promising new AI companies, training and academic research.
The cohort comprise six startups that use the power of AI to disrupt and enhance the performance of different industries and sectors across the globe, from farming and medicine to policing and education. Two of these companies are led by female founders.
Skymind’s investments include:
- Nexent – a full service business intelligence dashboard provider that helps enterprises stay in touch with their data. Its solution, Dashboard.Nexent, converts raw data into actionable insights through extensive back-end AI automated data analytics. By bridging the gap between data and analytics, it can quantify historical data to show trends and forecast the future through its intuitive analytics programming. Dashboard.Nexent allows decision makers to view live data with a single command, driving effective business strategy and planning.
- xpress.ai – an AI marketplace that focuses on delivering non-invasive plug and play AI modules for businesses that seamlessly integrate with SAAS and PAAS, making AI adoption easy and instant. Its technology was used as the primary UX interface for one of the most successful AI innovations last year: the launch of Axial AI. This AI software developed by Skymind provides solutions for multiple diseases analysis for hospitals and research facilities, and was used by medical teams around the world to diagnose patients with COVID-19 symptoms faster.
- Terra Sentinel – an AI consultancy that tackles the challenges of climate change and the environment. Offers tailored AI innovations that can help create smarter urban centres and sustainable, green cities.
- CertifAI – AI education offering with the aim to empower society with practical AI capabilities. The company provides an international industry-standard certification for all of its deep learning programmes. CertifAI’s education modules and curriculum have been adopted by both private and public tertiary institutions, and play an important role in developing the AI ecosystem by training up AI ready talent to support the industry’s rapid growth.
- Farmetrix – AI solutions for the agricultural sector, helping farmers to improve their efficiency in plantation management and offering alternatives to environmentally hostile farming practises. Using AI to harness big data, Farmetrix offers farmers critically important insights for agriculture planning such as forecast temperature, precipitation, wind speed, soil health, crops health and solar radiation monitoring. The data analysis of historic values offers a better comparison of the desired outcomes. And it won’t eliminate the jobs of human farmers – rather it will improve their processes.
- Skyfense – AI innovation to keep citizens safe and to improve policing. Skyfense provides various products – including an AI Body Camera that offers capabilities such as predictive policing – a data-driven approach to direct patrol operations. Skyfense uses a machine-learning algorithm to calculate predictions of where and when specific crimes are most likely to occur. Police officers can also use Skyfence to check the validity of a driving license and to verify if the card holder is a criminal; Machine learning is also applied for analysing statements from suspects and witnesses. Skyfense can further assist police officers in analysing if someone is lying based on the machine learning algorithm.
The decision to back all of these companies was not only the result of each startup’s impressive AI potential, but also the challenges of lockdown restrictions and the inability to travel globally.
Skymind’s senior team was confined to looking for talent in Malaysia where they were based during the pandemic. Fortunately, there was great local talent available, and Skymind acted swiftly to back the top players within the ecosystem.
Commenting on its first series of investments, Shawn Tan, CEO of Skymind said: “Each firm is headed up by a disruptive and tenacious founder that is set on creating technology with the biggest social impact and getting their ideas to market as swiftly as possible. With our support we can achieve this because Skymind’s approach is totally different.
“We are a new type investor – one that is more focused on venture building than equity share. Skymind looks mainly at AI innovations that are good for society and not just their business value – and then we work closely with the entrepreneurs to bring their companies to market by supplying them with an entire suite of service support, from financial backing to corporate client introductions and talent acquisition. Companies know they have a true partner in us.”
The Skymind team plans to invest in more companies in 2021, particularly across Europe and specifically in the UK – which is renowned for its historical support for the industry and is widely considered the premier European hub for artificial intelligence.
“It’s important to understand what’s happening on the ground before you back a company. You need to meet the founders, understand the proposition – it’s this hands-on approach that is key – and once lockdown lifts, we expect to expand our investment reach and look globally for talent – something that can only be achieved when business travel is possible again,” said Shawn. “We know that talent comes from everywhere – and will be hunting for the best in 2021. We are excited by what 2021 will bring and look forward to meeting our next cohort and helping them to build, scale and monetize their ideas.”