Brian Blum
December 11, 2018

Israel has a well-earned reputation as the Startup Nation. But it’s also becoming the AI Nation.

More than 1,200 artificial intelligence (AI) companies have been established in the country since 2010; 79 percent of them are still active and 6% have been acquired, reports IVC Research, which adds that “this sector’s vital signs are positive.”

Exits (where a company is either acquired or goes public) were higher in the first half of 2018 than for all of 2017, IVC adds.

The mix of AI companies in Israel has also changed – particularly in the last four years.

AI companies in Israel have traditionally focused on computer vision and this is where most of the development activity has been.

Jerusalem-based Mobileye, for example, builds systems that “watch” how your car is driving and sound an alert if you’re getting too close to another vehicle or veer out of your lane. Computer vision technology is now the basis behind Mobileye’s AI-centric approach to self-driving cars.

Beginning in 2014, though, there has been an increase in the share of companies implementing “data science” (a catchall name that encompasses data mining, statistical inference and prediction models) into their product lines. That’s been accompanied by a decrease in companies whose technology is more about computer vision, recommendation systems and text analysis.

IVC Research broke out the percentage of companies it tracks in each sector for the years 2010-2018.

  • Recommendation systems (5%) – companies that use mathematical models to predict and recommend user preferences. Example: Outbrain, which has raised $144 million.
  • Text analysis and NLP (8%) – companies which recognize and analyze the content and context of speech and text. Example: Twiggle, which has raised $35 million.
  • Sound recognition and analysis (10%) – companies that analyze and process sounds for applications such as voice assistants. Example: Gong, which has raised $26 million.
  • Chatbots, robotics and assistants (11%) – companies with technology that imitates a human interface. Example: Lemonade, which has raised $180 million.
  • Computer vision (20%) – companies which acquire, process and analyze digital images. Example: Mobileye, which was acquired by Intel for $15.3 billion.
  • Data science and analysis (43%) – companies that build statistical models for data mining and analysis. Example: Gett, which has raised $597 million.

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Jason Harris

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