During Q1 2018, investments allocated to the artificial intelligence sphere surged over $1.9 bn (as calculated by PwC). Prospective companies and startups focused on AI-powered development are also presented in Russia. Some of them successfully export own products across the globe.

Within a year, the volume of investments in artificial intelligence reached 69%. It should be mentioned that the heavyweights such as Apple, Amazon or Microsoft are not single players on the market of new technologies. AI-fueled solutions are successfully implemented in Russia in, for example, Sberbank, MTS, Rostelecom and dozens of other companies. Some products are developed by AI-based startups.

VisionLabs

Founded in 2012 by Alexey Nekhaev, Alexander Khanin, Ivan Laptev and Alexey Kornichev. The first investment allocated to VisionLabs was 3 m RUB. The company is focused on face recognition products for finance, safety, retail (computer vision and machine learning). Right from its establishment, VisionLabs became a resident of the Skolkovo Innovation Center in the IT cluster. Later, it was listed in world’s top three leaders of face recognition, as analyzed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (a test based on Labeled Faces in the Wild).

The company has own Luna service and Face_Is cloud service, which allows to process images faster than competitors do. VisionLabs senior managers claim that their system is 200 times quicker compared to its analogs. The company is working on the project fulfillment along with Facebook and Google: they are developing an open platform available to those who create computer vision systems. As a result of the companies’ joint work, the integration of Open CV and Torch took place.

VisionLabs product is mainly used at financial organizations – 30 banks in Russia and the CIS. Such companies as ABBYY, SAS, SAP and Intel are partners of VisionLabs. The project won grants from the Bortnik Fund (30 m RUB), 1 m from IIDF and a subsidy from the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation.

NTechLab

Face recognition technologies are a prospective research area. As analyzed by MarketsandMarkets, the volume of global investments in this sphere will have grown up to 6.2 bn USD by 2020. So, it doesn’t appear to be a surprise that another Russia-based company works with face recognition - NTechLab. It was founded by a graduate ofthe Lomonosov Moscow State University Artem Kukharenko in 2015. According to the American portal TechRepublic, NTechLab solutions are listed in top five investment attractive Russian projects.

The company developed FindFace system that searches for photos in social networks. FindFace applies an intelligent algorithm for face recognition on VK and Twitter. MegaFace online resource compares the recognition accuracy of FindFace and a Google analog. In 2015, NTechLab even managed to outperform Google at the global recognition championship. Later, it proved its excellence during the NIST international testing and became the winner of IARPA contest.

FindFace Enterprise Server SDK is widely used for business tasks such as customer intelligence, fraud prevention and access control.

Promobot

A Perm-based Promobot company develops products in the sphere of AI, mechatronics and speech recognition. It produces automated robot promoters, administrators, consultants for Russia, the USA, China, Canada, the UK, Spain and other countries (14 in total). The devices work on the Promobot open platform. Functional modules can be added.

The robots recognize speech and memorize people they talk to. Using a neural network technology and an extensive language base (100 000 speech modules), the robot maintains a fully-fledged conversation with a person. It soon will be able to provide emotional reactions (due to AI technologies and the Neurodata Lab neural network solution).

The team consists of 50 members, including the experts on IT, neural networks, face and speech recognition. CEO Alexey Yuzhakov and Development Director Oleg Kivokurtsev are senior managers at the company.

In 2018, Promobot made a contract with an American company USLG to supply of 2000 robots to the US. The agreement was estimated at 56 m USD.

Cubic.ai

Cubic Robotics was founded by a native of Krasnoyarsk Yuri Burov in 2012. The company offers its unique product – a robot assistant Cubic. It is an intelligent household assistant controlled by speech. The device communicates with its owner, can set an alarm clock, read the news, turn music on and off, create a to-do list.

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In 2013, the first financial injection came from a businessman Konstantin Senchenko who invested 600 000 USD getting 22% of company shares. The startup is currently based in Silicon Valley and focused on natural language processing. The latest gadget from Cubic Robotics can manage a house and its appliances. In 2015, the project attracted 185 000 USD on Indiegogo, in 2016, investors parked 800 000 USD in it.

The company product Prisma platform eventually grew popular after the presentation on App Store in 2016. Within 12 months, 100 m downloads of this app were estimated. Prisma is built on neural networks and can process images simulating painters’ works of art using a self-training algorithm.

The company was founded by Alexey Moiseenkov from Mail.ru Group along with Oleg Poyaganov, Ilya Frolov and Andrey Usoltsev from Yandex. The project attracted investments in two weeks after its launch. Among the investors, there were Mail.ru Group and XBT Holding (rumors say that the sum of money is valued at 10 m USD).

Cubic.ai Co-Founder Alexey Moiseenkov left the company and launched a new project Capture Technologies Inc. that attracted 1 m USD. The details remain unclear, but the general description gives an idea of a social network and AI-based solutions.

Conclusions

The most successful AI-focused companies create products related to image recognition and safety. A lot of startups gained profit for the development of products for everyday life (service, entertainment, household stuff). They include personal assistants capable of speech recognition and conducting a dialog with people.

The similar tendencies can be observed in a ranking of the 100 most promising artificial intelligence companies in the world from the American platform CB Insights.