France has been making a big pushing into artificial intelligence in a bid to turn local mathematics and science know-how into global startups. State-backed investor Bpifrance alone poured €368m in 2019 into such companies.
France hopes to grow and, according to a new report from tech association France Digitale mapping the country’s AI ecosystem, is well-positioned to spawn the next generation of leaders in segments including industrial applications, autonomous vehicles and connected objects.
“French AI startups have many cards to play to rank among the world’s leaders of artificial intelligence,” says Julia Fenart, head of European public affairs for France Digitale. [It has] scientific talent and maths and engineering training that the rest of the world envies.”
While the US, China and Israel lead the global race to spawn AI startups, France isn’t too far behind in the 7th position, behind the UK (which is 4th) and ahead of Germany (8th), according to consulting firm Roland Berger.
On the shoulders of industrial giants
“Our mapping shows AI is continuing to penetrate all segments of the economy, from robotics to health and fintech, ” says Fenart. “If there’s one sector Europe, and France specifically, can shine on, it’s AI for industry.”
Fenart argues that AI startups can use the heaps of data accumulated by industrial giants in France and Europe, in sectors like energy, nuclear or aerospace to get ahead. The likes of airplane maker Airbus, for instance.
There’s also significant demand for so-called “embedded AI”, where France can differentiate, says Fenart. “Embedded AI” refers to computing ability that’s not centralized in the cloud, but instead embedded directly into local hardware, like the chips inside a self-driving car, or other objects.
Instead of data being sent into a central computing capacity somewhere in the cloud, and then back to the device, a local AI can sort through data on-site, for faster decisions that are less energy-hungry.
France Digitale’s mapping, published ahead of its annual France is AI event, lists 453 AI startups in France. Sifted worked with France Digitale to highlight 20 names worth knowing, in no particular order.
So which are the AI startups to watch in France?
AnotherBrain. Developing an “organic AI” as an alternative to deep learning. Created in 2017, the startup is building technology inspired by the human brain, more frugal in data and energy, and that protects privacy.
Zelros. An AI-fueled business platform dedicated to the insurance industry, focused on sales tactics. Created in 2016.
Owkin. Created in 2016, Owkin makes AI applied to medical research, aimed at accelerating drug discovery and precision medicine. Created by two French entrepreneurs, it has offices in New York as well as paris.
Hyperlex. A platform for drafting, signing and analyzing contracts, using AI for legaltech. Created in 2017, Hyperlex has developed language processing technologies capable of identifying and interpreting key information in documents.
Hugging face. Developing language processing expertise. Created in 2016 by two French entrepreneurs, the company first got noticed for building a mobile app that lets you chat with an artificial friend. It’s based in Paris and New York.
Exotec. Created in 2014, Exotec is making an order preparation system based on robots.
Synapse Medicine. Created in 2017, Synapse Medicine is an independent source of information about pharmaceutical drugs, or “medication intelligence”. It uses AI to process and update data, as well as adapt to each patient.
Shift Technology. Fraud-detection technology designed for the insurance industry. The startup was created in 2013.
Cardiologs. Cardiologs helps healthcare professionals screen their patients for heart disorders. Created in 2014, it raised its latest fundraising round in January this year.
Yseop. Created in 2008, Yseop offers natural language generation solutions for transforming data into reports and expertise, in multiple languages and in real time. It’s based in the city of Lyon.
Shippeo. Created in 2014, Shippeo makes an AI-fueled tracking system for road transport.
Tinyclues. Built to help marketers generate more revenue from their customer database. It’s a marketing tool for reaching the right audience in an ad campaign, based on an AI-powered targeting solution. It was founded in 2010.
Prevision.io. Enterprise AI platform, created in 2016. It provides an automated Machine Learning software to make every company AI-first through ready-to-use business applications.
Kayrros. Created in 2016, combining deep industry expertise with cutting-edge proprietary AI technology in data science, machine learning, computer vision, and atmospheric modelling.
Prophesee. Its technology uses AI to mimic the eye and brain. Created in 2014, it is targeting areas such as autonomous vehicles, industrial automation, internet of things, security and surveillance, as well as augmented and virtual reality. One early application was in medical devices that restore vision to the blind.
Cosmo Tech. The startup, created in 2011, makes enterprise software for industrial companies to simulate and optimize operational efficiency. It’s based in the city of Lyon.
Craft AI. Created in 2015, Craft AI provides AI-as-a-service for developers of mobile, web and internet of things applications.
Deepomatic. Enables companies to augment frontline workers in their daily tasks. Created in 2014.
Levia. Created in 2018, Levia makes conversational AI technologies, meaning it will use a database and morph it into a messaging interface (a chatbot type solution) for answering complex requests in natural, human-like language.
Vekia. Founded in 2008, Vekia develops predictive planning software that uses the latest advances in research to model the complex problems of supply chains. It’s based in the city of Lille.