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There were a couple of key AI startup acquisitions this week — in ML decision-making and AI translation — as well as new funding in a variety of sectors as diverse as conversational AI, enterprise workflows and land-based aquaculture.
Here are six companies that made headlines:
1. BioNTech acquires ML startup InstaDeep for drug discovery
German-based biotech company BioNTech, well-known for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, will acquire the UK-based InstaDeep, for up to £562 million (~$680 million). BioNTech was already partnering with Instadeep, which according to its website “delivers AI-powered decision-making systems for the enterprise.”
“Our goal with the acquisition is to integrate AI seamlessly in all aspects of our work – from target discovery, lead discovery to manufacturing and delivery of our products,” BioNTech co-founder and chief executive Ugur Sahin said at the J.P. Morgan healthcare conference on Tuesday, according to Reuters.
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2. DeepL targets AI translation for enterprises with fresh $100 million
Seeking to target enterprise customers with AI language translation, Cologne, Germany-based DeepL announced a new funding raise that public reports estimate at well over $100 million.
Basic language translation capabilities have been available on for decades — for example, services such as Google Translate. But the challenge has been enabling more advanced translation for business use cases that capture not just the literal meaning but the right tone and context. This is an area where AI powered language translation is beginning to make an impact.
DeepL launched in 2017 and has steadily advanced its technology through deep neural networks. The new funding raises the company’s valuation to more than $1 billion. The company did not publicly release the total raised.
3. HPE acquires Pachyderm to boost AI dev
Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has acquired privately-held open-source vendor Pachyderm to boost artificial intelligence (AI) development capabilities and enable reproducible AI at scale.
The San Francisco-based Pachyderm was founded in 2014 and had raised $28 million in funding to date. Financial terms of the acquisition are not being publicly disclosed.
Pachyderm develops an open-source based technology for data pipelines used to enable machine learning (ML) operations workflows. With Pachyderm, users can also define data transformation for how source data should be manipulated and configured so it is optimized for AI. The whole data pipeline approach is set up in a way that makes it easily reproducible, such that it’s easier for data scientists to understand how data that flows into a model is collected and used.
4. ReelData AI snags $8 million for land-based farmers
ReelData, a company leveraging AI to provide customized data and automation to land-based farmers, announced it has raised $8 million.
“Scaling the global land-based aquaculture industry is critical in both our fight against climate change and our ability to feed a growing population,” said Mathew Zimola, co-founder and CEO of ReelData, in a press release. “ReelData’s farmer-first approach has informed our deep understanding of the pain points that our partners are facing when it comes to scalability. Our ability to solve those problems through the use of AI and automation is helping to push the boundaries of our industry’s capabilities.”
According to ReelData, aquaculture is one of the fastest-growing segments of food production and its continued pace of expansion rests on scaling land-based operations. These facilities are complex and require real-time, accurate decision-making. ReelData intends to use the funding it has raised to develop a precise and autonomous operating system to unlock the future of land-based aquaculture and the sustainability advancements it promises.
5. Conversational AI specialist NLX raises $4.6M
New York City-based NLX, whose conversational AI technology is being used by airlines, hotels and fast-moving consumer goods suppliers, has raised $4.6 million in funding, according to a press release.
The latest round will be used for marketplace expansion and product optimization. The news comes almost one year after NLX announced a $5 million raise in seed funding in January 2022, bringing the total raised to $9.6 million.
“In an age of increasing digital interactions with customers, many companies are upgrading their customer service technology, including their contact centers, to improve large-scale internal and external communication and improve customer self-service through automation,” said Andrei Papancea, CEO and chief product officer of NLX.
6. AI learning startup Ahura AI lands additional $4.3 million
AI learning experience platform Ahura AI, based in San Francisco, announced $4.3 million in new funding to support the company’s product development and sales activity.
According to a press release, the company says there is an “explosion of innovation and change to corporate learning platforms (LMS, LXPs) catalyzed by recent trends of remote-work, the Great Resignation, and heightened awareness of the positive impact of belonging on productivity and talent retention.”
“As investors in early stage ventures that are developing scalable and ground-breaking innovation, we are pleased to have invested and support Ahura AI in their critical work the team is doing in AI and personalized learning in upskilling workforces,” said Chris Sang, managing partner, CP Ventures.
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