Which products haven’t been imbued with artificial intelligence (AI) at this point? In 2018, analysts pegged the global AI market at a whopping $7.35 billion, buoyed by the influx of machine learning-aided image recognition, object identification, detection, and classification, and geophysical detection startups, apps, and services in every conceivable sector (and particularly enterprise). But as with all promising technologies, not every AI startup, app, and service will pan — or has panned — out, and it becomes harder with each passing day to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Fortunately, the folks at CB Insights have taken the bull by the horns. They today published their third annual cohort of AI startups — a compilation of 100 of the most promising companies (whittled down from a pool of over 3,000) providing hardware and data infrastructure for AI apps, optimizing machine learning workflows, and applying AI across a range of industries. The selections were based on factors including — but not limited to — patent activity, investor profile, market potential, partnerships, competitive landscape, team strength, and novelty.

Here’s the full list, ordered by domain:


  • Benson Hill Biosystems
  • Taranis


  • Nuro
  • Pony.ai
  • Drive.ai
  • Nexar
  • DeepMap
  • Mapillary
  • Momenta
  • AEye
  • DeepScale
  • Iris Automation
  • Perceptive Automata

Enterprise tech

  • AI.Reverie
  • DefinedCrowd
  • MightyAI
  • Dataiku
  • Machinify
  • DataRobot
  • Tamr
  • H20.ai
  • Trifacta
  • Dremio
  • SigOpt
  • Mabl
  • Applitools
  • Demisto
  • Anodot
  • Shape Security
  • Vectra Networks
  • Area 1 Security
  • Agari Data
  • Jask Labs
  • Perimeter X
  • BounceX
  • Unbabel
  • Gong
  • Gamalon
  • FullStory
  • UiPath
  • Automation Anywhere
  • Orbital Insight
  • Descartes Labs
  • Element AI
  • SparkCognition
  • Prowler.io

Finance and insurance

  • 4Paradigm
  • BioCatch
  • DataVisor
  • HyperScience
  • Behavox
  • AppZen


  • One Concern
  • SenseTime
  • Face++
  • Yitu Technology
  • Fortem Technologies
  • Shield AI

Health care

  • Qventus
  • LeanTaaS
  • Insitro
  • Owkin
  • Atomwise
  • Paige.ai
  • Niramai
  • Butterfly Network
  • IDx Technologies
  • Arterys
  • Viz.ai
  • Mindstrong Health
  • Gauss Surgical
  • Medopad


  • Sense Labs
  • Falkonry
  • C3
  • Kebotix
  • Zymergen
  • Landing AI

Legal, compliance, and HR

  • LawGeex
  • Eigen Technologies
  • Onfido
  • Textio


  • AI Foundation
  • New Knowledge
  • Arraiy

Real estate

  • Hover
  • Skyline AI


  • TwentyBN
  • Abeja
  • Signifyd
  • AiFi
  • Sift


  • Habana Labs
  • Graphcore
  • Cerebras Systems
  • Horizon Robotics
  • Thinci
  • Syntiant
  • Mythic


  • Mist Systems

First on the report: AI unicorns, or private companies valued at more than $1 billion. A total of 11 made the shortlist, including Hong Kong computer vision and deep learning startup SenseTime, robotic process automation companies UiPath and Automation Anywhere, security firm Yitu Technology, U.K.-based semiconductor startup Graphcore, internet of things analytics company C3, and health care hardware provider Butterfly Network. Rounding out the list are 4Paradigm, driverless car startup Pony.ai, facial recognition services provider Face++, and Momenta.

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CB Insights reports that of those 11 organizations, SenseTime and Face++ are the best-funded — owing in large part to government contracts. (Face++ and SenseTime have attracted over $600 million and $2.6 billion, respectively, according to Crunchbase.) California-based bioinformatics company Zymergen, which uses machine learning algorithms to find alternatives to plastics and petroleum, is the third-most funded AI company on the AI 100 with $574 million (its investors include Goldman Sachs and Softbank), followed by Automation Anywhere ($550 million), UiPath ($448 million), Yitu ($355.12 million), Butterfly ($350 million), Graphcore ($310 million), C3 ($242.74 million), and DataRobot ($224.61 million).

Collectively, to date, they’ve raised $6.254 billion in capital.

More than 680 corporations, VCs, CVS, and angel investors contributed capital to firms in CB Insight’s cohort. GV (formerly Google Ventures) led the list of active investors by number of AI investment deals; it was involved in 27. Kleiner Perkins ranked second with 22 rounds, followed by Data Collective with 21, New Enterprise Associates with 19, Accel with 16, Norwest Venture Partners and Battery Ventures with 15, Intel Capital with 14, IA Ventures with 13, and AME Cloud Ventures with 13.

Those are the top earners and backers, but what about the top patent filers? CB Insights dove into that, too, and found that the AI 100 cohort filed for a total of 600 patents in the U.S. Spotlight applications came from AI processor design firm Cerebras, which filed three in 2018 concerning on semiconductor fabrication and accelerating deep learning, and Butterfly Network, which patented product designs related to its portable handheld ultrasound scanner. By sheer volume, Shape Security topped the list within the AI 100, with Butterfly, BioCatch, Hover, AEye, Gauss Surgical, DeepMap, Gong, SparkCognition, and IDx Technologies following close behind.

CB Insights

Above: The geographic breakdown of CB Insights’ AI 100.

Image Credit: CB Insights

As for how the AI 100 broke down geographically, interestingly — but not surprisingly — close to two dozen in the report are headquartered outside of the U.S. (According to an Asgard report, China and Israel are tied with an 11 percent share of all AI companies.) Element AI is located in Montreal; Graphcore, Onfido, Medopad, Behavox, Eigen Technologies, and Prowler.io call the U.K. home; TwentyBN is based in Berlin; Mapillary is in Sweden; SenseTime, Face++, Yitu, 3Paradim, Horizon Robotics, and Momenta are in China; Niramai is in India; and Habana Labs, BioCatch, Nexar, Taranis, Anodot, and LawGeex have bases in Israel.

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