AI 100: Most promising AI startups in the world

The AI 100 is CB Insights’ annual ranking of the 100 most promising AI startups in the world. This year’s winning companies include startups working on synthetic voice, quantum machine learning, protein modeling, and more.

2020 AI 100 startups
2020 AI 100 startups


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The CB Insights 4th annual AI 100 finalists include AI startups from 13 countries, pushing the boundaries of AI research and commercial adoption across 15 industries and a broad range of cross-industry applications.

Using the CB Insights platform, our research team picked the 100 companies from nearly 5K startups, based on several factors including patent activity, business relations, investor profile, news sentiment analysis, proprietary Mosaic scores, market potential, competitive landscape, team strength, and tech novelty.

Startups are categorized by their main focus areas. Categories in the market map below are not mutually exclusive.

Table of contents
  • 2020 AI 100 highlightsCompany stage and partnership momentumThe 2020 AI 100 cohort includes a broad range of startups, including well-funded companies commercializing their products and expanding into new markets, startups forming business relationships with key industry players, and early-stage startups with a strong research focus that have not yet raised external funding.A few highlights are provided below:
      • The 2020 AI 100 startups have raised over $7.4B in funding across 300+ deals from 600+ unique investors.
      • The list includes 10 unicorns focused on a diverse range of AI solutions. One unicorn on the list is Faire, a wholesale marketplace that uses machine learning to match local retailers with goods that are predicted to sell well in their specific locations. Butterfly Network, another unicorn on the list, is building a portable ultrasound device that uses AI-assisted diagnostics. Meanwhile, enterprise-focused unicorn DataRobot provides tools to help companies develop AI applications.
      • The list includes early-stage startups like Caspar AI, which has struck deals with companies like Panasonic and The Wolff Company to develop smart home solutions. Another early-stage company on the list is Israel-based Razor Labs, which has provided AI services to mining companies.
      • A number of startups have formed partnerships with key industry players. ClimaCell, which focuses on climate modeling, has partnerships with Google, JetBlue, Delta, and Munich RE to name a few. Drug R&D company Cyclica has teamed up with leading pharma companies like Bayer and Merck., an insurance tech startup focused on catastrophe risk, recently partnered with MetLife to use AI to help predict wildfire risk.
    Industry focusThis year’s AI 100 companies are working on solutions across 15 core industries, including healthcare, retail & warehouse, and finance & insurance.A number of companies are also focused on several cross-industry solutions, like the development of AI processors, sales & CRM, and natural language processing (NLP) research.
      • Healthcare is the top industry for AI deal activity at large, and this is reflected in the 2020 cohort, with 13 companies focused on healthcare AI. Eko, for example, is integrating AI software into stethoscopes to monitor cardiac health and received FDA clearance in January. Meanwhile, is turning smartphones into at-home diagnostic kits, with a focus on urinalysis. Another healthcare company on the list is Subtle Medical, which is using AI to enhance radiology images.
      • Retail & warehousing was the second-largest category represented in the AI 100 cohort this year. Featured startups in this space include AifiStandard Cognition, and Grabango, which are all focused on developing cashierless store services for retailers.
      • Within transportation, our 2020 AI 100 list includes startups focused on safe highway driving (Ghost Locomotion), predictive maintenance for the railway industry (KONUX), and automated dispatch and freight management (Loadsmart).
    Geographic distributionThe companies in the cohort represent 13 countries, including Chile, China, Sweden, South Africa, and JapanUS-based companies dominate the 2020 AI 100 list, with 65% of the featured companies based there, but the cohort also reflects a number of emerging AI hubs:
      • A total of 8 startups from Canada are featured on the 2020 AI 100 list, including Xanadu (quantum AI), Invenia (energy grid optimization), and Deeplite (neural network optimization).
      • The 8 UK startups on the list include InstaDeep, an AI R&D company that jointly published a research paper last year with Google DeepMind on a novel reinforcement learning algorithm called AlphaNPI. Snyk, another UK-based startup on the list, focuses on security solutions for developers and has partnered with companies like Google and Trend Micro to help detect vulnerabilities.
      • There are 6 startups based in China in the 2020 AI 100 cohort. One example is Dorabot, a startup focused on reinforcement learning for robotic manipulation and warehouse logistics. Another example is ed tech company Squirrel AI, which has entered into research collaborations focused on personalized learning with institutions like SRI International and Carnegie Mellon University.
    Table of 2020 winnersList of 2020 winners by industry, application, and headquarters.

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