9 digital technology start-ups innovating around the world

This week, we’re looking at some pioneers shaking up their industries. From a quantum computing start-up to a microsatellite manufacturer, we’ve got a diverse range of businesses.

In 2019, the Economic Forum announced its 13 Digital Technology Pioneers of the year.

From a quantum computing company that’s giving Google and IBM a run for their money, to a mobile mesh networking company hoping to lead advancements towards universal connectivity.

We’ve chosen 9 of the start-ups on that list that are set to make waves in their respective industries in the year to come.

Rigetti Computing

Rigetti Computing was founded in 2013 by Chad Rigetti. The company focuses on developing quantum integrated circuits used for quantum computers, as well as developing a cloud platform called Forest that enables programmers to write quantum algorithms. Through Rigetti’s Quantum Cloud Services (QCS) platform, the company’s machines can be integrated into any public, private or hybrid cloud.

The full-stack quantum computing company has been described as the “quantum computer factory that’s taking on Google and IBM” by Wired, was named one of MIT Technology Review’s 50 smartest companies of 2017 and is recognised as one of the three leaders in the quantum computing space by X-Prize founder Peter Diamandis.

To date, the company has raised approximately $119.5m, from investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Y Combinator and Vy Capital.

Airtable

Cloud collaboration start-up Airtable was founded by Howie Liu, Andrew Ofstad and Emmett Nicholas in 2012. The San Francisco-based company began as a spreadsheet-database hybrid.

The business views software as the most important innovation of the past century, and wants to democratise software creation. Airtable allows people to create their own custom applications, regardless of their technical experience.

Since the start-up was founded, it has raised $170m, with investment from CRV, Caffeinated Capital, Benchmark, Coatue Management and Thrive Capital. Airtable has been used by millions of people, and companies such as Boiler Room, Time magazine, Atlantic Records, Netflix, BET and HubSpot.

Descartes Labs

Founded in 2014, Descartes Labs is a spin-out from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Launched by Adam Smith, Mark Johnson, Mark Mathis, Mike Warren, Steven Brumby and Tim Kelton, the business is building a data refinery for satellite imagery.

The company does this by using computer vision, machine learning and a cloud-based infrastructure to teach computers to see and understand the world around them. The technology was first used to develop an agricultural model to analyse corn and soy production in the US, but the founders quickly realised that the technology could be applied to many more use cases around the globe.

The company has now created an enterprise data refinery that enables organisations to model – and predict changes in – natural resources and the entire value chains in which they live. To date, Descartes Labs has managed to raise $58m, according to Crunchbase. The company has also opened offices in New York City, Los Alamos and San Francisco.

Eureka

Eureka is a Singapore-based artificial intelligence platform that is led by Benjamin Soemartopo. Founded in 2016, the start-up powers partnerships between mobile operators and enterprises in a wide variety of industries, including banking, insurance, transport and market research.

The company uses AI to unlock the unique data that telecoms companies hold, and enables the monetisation of this data, through products that deliver insights, risk scoring and customer engagement. With 850m subscribers, Eureka is currently being used by mobile operators in Southeast Asia, India, the Middle East, Africa and Europe.

goTenna

Mobile mesh networking company goTenna is developing programmable mobile infrastructure, that could advance universal access to connectivity. The New York-based start-up was founded in 2012 by Daniela Perdomo and Jorge Perdomo.

The company’s mesh network enables communication even when cell, wi-fi and satellites are unavailable. goTenna recognised that while mesh networks have been around for decades, most businesses in the mesh network industry prioritise high bitrate over range.

The start-up has developed a low capacity network that can be used in off-grid environments, supporting peer-to-peer connectivity in a cost-effective manner that consumes power efficiently and is easy to use.

Investors in the business include Walden Venture Capital, Union Square Ventures and the Founders Fund. According to Crunchbase, goTenna has raised $40m to date.

Iceye

Founded in 2014 as a spin-out of the Aalto University Radio Technology department, Iceye is a Polish and Finnish microsatellite manufacturer, that aims to retrieve actionable information about every square metre on Earth, every single hour.

The company’s technology can be used to help clients resolve challenges in sectors such as maritime, disaster management, insurance, finance, security and intelligence. The company was co-founded by Pekka Laurila and CEO Rafal Modrzewski, who began their project together in 2012.

Now headquartered in Espoo, Finland, the business has raised $65m according to Crunchbase, with investments from Business Finland, True Ventures, Seraphim Capital and DNX Ventures. The company has launched a number of satellites into orbit since it was founded, with its most recent launch in July 2019.

Luminance Technologies

Luminance Technologies is an AI platform based in London, which helps lawyers around the world to dig deeper into their data, by providing them with unprecedented insight and clarity across their contracts.

Founded in 2014, Luminance technologies has developed a pattern-recognition technology that can read, understand and learn from the interactions lawyers have with their documents, pinpointing warning signs that could be missed during a manual review.

Led by CEO Emily Foges and co-founder Sofie Quidenus-Wahlforss, the company’s machine learning and pattern recognition technology was developed at the University of Cambridge. The company’s platform is now used in more than 40 countries and the start-up has offices in London, Cambridge, New York, Chicago and Singapore. According to Crunchbase, Luminance Technologies has raised $23m.

Marinus Analytics

Co-founded by Cara Jones and Emily Kennedy, Marinus Analytics is a Pennsylvania-based start-up that focuses on using machine learning and data mining for social good. Jones and Kennedy set up the business in 2014, after they graduated from Carnegie Mellon Robotics.

Marinus Analytics uses its AI solution to help law enforcement, government and the private sector to identify and combat criminal activity, whether that’s by stopping people from selling drugs online or fighting against human trafficking.

More recently, the company has been exploring ways in which it can use its AI solution to address social services challenges and the opioid epidemic in the United States.

One Concern

The main goal of One Concern is to save lives and livelihoods, before during and after natural disasters. The company does this by combining physical science with the power of AI to quantify impact and map critical dependencies of natural disasters, to increase the resilience of companies and communities around the globe.

One Concern’s platform can be used by insurance companies to make risk calculation more precise, or by governments, to help them prepare, respond and mitigate the impact of natural disasters.  Commercially, it can be used to identify hidden risks to business through multi-hazard analysis of critical infrastructure. It can also be used to expose hidden risks and disclose them to shareholders.

One Concern co-founded by Ahmad Wani, Nicole Hu and Tim Frank, after CEO Wani was marooned during the catastrophic Kashmir flood of 2014 for seven days. Together, they channelled their talents into applying data science and machine learning to natural disasters and the climate crisis.



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