Artificial intelligence & machine learning is perhaps one of the most compelling, disruptive and terrifying technology trends today. It also represents one of the fastest-growing verticals for European venture capital investment. As of August 20, there were 323 VC deals in Europe involving AI & machine-learning businesses, which brought in some €1.9 billion (around $2.1 billion) total. This already exceeds the €1.8 billion raised across 520 deals in the sector last year, which in turn topped 2017's €1.3 billion by a considerable margin, per PitchBook data.
A broad array of startups spanning the value chain are finding their niche in the production and application of AI technology across the vertical. This diversity is witnessed in the top five most valuable European AI startups, which—apart from the fact that they all exist within the same vertical—develop distinct products. Graphcore (Valuation: $1.7 billion) Unlike the other companies on this list, Graphcore is primarily concerned with the hardware behind AI tech. The Bristol, England-based startup develops a next generation computer processor to accelerate machine intelligence learning. Given the projected future demand for such processors in this relatively nascent industry, it is little wonder Graphcore holds the higest valuation of AI startups in Europe. It secured unicorn status in December with a $200 million Series D co-led by Atomico and Sofina. Darktrace (Valuation: $1.65 billion) Cambridge, UK-based cybersecurity startup Darktrace uses AI and machine learning to scan and identify security vulnerabilities and malicious traffic within a company's network. Darktrace reached its current valuation when it raised a $50 million Series E led by Vitruvian Partners last September; KKR and TenEleven Ventures also funded the round. Meero (Valuation: $1 billion*) Paris-based Meero, the developer of an on-demand photography platform, is one of two French startups to make the list. It leverages AI to rapidly process digital imagery—including 360° VR photos and videos—for customers in over 100 countries. Meero raised $230 million in a Series C co-led by Eurazeo and Prime Ventures with an estimated $1 billion valuation in June. Iov42 (Valuation: €520 million) If there's anything more hyped than AI, it's blockchain—and this startup straddles them both. Surprisingly the only company on the list to be headquartered in London, Iov42 develops an AI-powered blockchain-operating platform that provides service to cryptocurrencies. Its latest investment was a €20 million Series C3 in March. ContentSquare (Valuation: €276.8 million*)ContentSquare develops a platform that helps businesses understand how and why users are interacting with their app, mobile and web sites. The Paris-based company employs a combination of behavioral data, AI and big data to offer automatic recommendations, measure content performance and understand visitor intentions. In January, the company raised a €52.55 million Series C led by Eurazeo. Highland Europe and Canaan Partners also participated in the round.
*These valuations are estimated.
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