A global look at the cognitive computing start-up scene

I published the first version of my cognitive computing startup list about six weeks ago.  As I poked around further, and got some great questions from the community, I discovered a range of new resources on deep learning and AI startups, and literally thousands of new candidates.  In particular, I started using Crunchbase as a resource to spread my net further for serious cognitive computing companies.  If you simply search their database for companies that mention artificial intelligence somewhere in their description, you get about 2200 hits.  Even the Crunchbase category of Artificial Intelligence companies has more than 1400 companies currently.

As I described in the first release, the majority of companies in the AI category, while having generally interesting or even compelling propositions, are using true cognitive computing as just a modest element of some broader product value, or may be playing up the AI angle, because it is so sexy right now.  Instead, I really tried to identify those companies operating on inherently huge data analytics and generation problems, which have a tight focus on automated machine learning, and whose blogs and job posting suggest depth of expertise and commitment to machine learning and neural network methods.

I also found other good lists of AI-releated startups, like MMC Ventures’s “Artificial Intelligence in the UK: Landscape and learnings from 226 startups”:


and the Chinese Geekpark A100 list of worldwide startups:


With all this, I could filter the vast range of startups down to about 275 that seem to represent the most focused, the most active and the most innovative, according to my admittedly idiosyncratic criteria.

The geographical distribution is instructive.  Not surprisingly, about half are based in the US, with two-thirds of the US start-ups found in California.  More surprisingly is the strong second is the UK, with more than 20% of the total, followed by China, and Canada.  I was somewhat surprised to find China with just 8% of the startups, so I asked a number of colleagues to educate me more on cognitive computing startups in China.  This yields a few more important entrants, but China still lags behind the UK in cognitive computing startups.

I have split the list a number of different ways, identifying those

  • with a significant focus on embedded systems (not just cloud-based software): 82 companies
  • working primarily on imaging and vision-based cognitive computing: 125 companies
  • doing embedded vision: 74 companies

Within embedded vision, you’ll find 10 or more each focused on surveillance, autonomous cars, drones and robotics, human-machine interface, and new silicon platforms for deep learning.  It’s a rich mix.

Stay tuned for more on individual companies, startup strategies and trends in the different segments of cognitive computing.  And take a look at the list!

4 thoughts on “A global look at the cognitive computing start-up scene”

  1. And cognitive computing is increasingly being used in the domain of risk management, mining often ambiguous and uncertain data to find indicators of known and unknown risks.

  2. Cognitive systems in a triage room can analyze your vitals, correlate them with your medical and travel histories, and predict with accuracy whether you have the common flu, the Zika virus or some other illness.

  3. Moreover, as cognitive fraud detection systems continue to learn, they can detect more complex fraud, an advantage that may have the biggest impact on risk management.

  4. In the legal profession, cognitive computing is already being used to comb through and find important case files quickly, a process that could take weeks or months before.

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