April 25, 2018

Improving the World through Artificial Intelligence



It has been over 6 months since we announced the Innovate.AI Global Startup Competition, offering early-stage startups using AI the chance to compete for a combined $3.5M in venture funding and up to $2M in Microsoft Azure credits to help progress the future of AI.

We are arriving at the end of this journey, and have held our final judging events in Seattle, London, and Tel Aviv with our diverse and inspiring set of finalists.

In addition to the investment prizes for the top startups in each region, we will also be awarding an ‘AI for Good’ prize to one company that is using AI to create positive change for society and the world. We wanted to take this opportunity to share more about some of the amazing companies that are finalists for this prize and why we feel this is so important.

AI for Good

Although it seems like everyone is talking about the power of AI to transform modern life and work, we believe that we are still in the early days of this next wave in technology. There is certainly vast potential for AI to enhance many aspects of life, but we want to make sure that it’s applied in a responsible manner that is not exacerbating social issues or encoding human biases. We believe the best applications of AI will enhance people’s natural abilities and solve difficult problems that will benefit society.

We saw this competition as an opportunity to take this a step further and created the ‘AI for Good’ prize to support an early-stage company focused on inclusive growth and making a positive impact on the world.

“We believe the best applications of AI will enhance people’s natural abilities and solve difficult problems that will benefit society.”

Innovation Themes

We received hundreds of applications across the world, and many of them were addressing problems that qualified them for the ‘AI for Good’ prize. Across all the regions, there were some general themes that emerged from the applications we saw:

  • Improving access to jobs/education: Startups using big data and AI to help match people to optimal jobs, schools, and training to help them improve their career and maximize their potential. A good example of a solution in this area was
  • Agtech: Companies applying AI to help reduce crop loss and aid our ability to safely grow the global food supply. Applicants like Farmsense can detect and recognize harmful insects thereby increasing crop yield and providing more food to people worldwide, and Farmster is creating a marketplace to connect rural farmers to sell their crops
  • Personal & Mental Health Assistants: Companies that are creating intelligent assistants to provide personalized care (such as virtual nurses in a person’s home) and help people treat mental health disorders such as depression and PTSD. Good examples of this were Synchronous Health and Aifred Health
  • Diagnostics & Preventative Medicine: AI and big data analytics being used to diagnose health issues such as cancer and discover new cures to untreatable diseases. Applicants such as FirstDerm and iSono Health are on the cutting edge of applying AI to healthcare and putting this in the hands of consumers.

“We received hundreds of applications across the world, and many of them were addressing problems that qualified them for the ‘AI for Good’ prize.”

It was extremely difficult to choose a list of ‘AI for Good’ candidates across so many qualified and inspiring startups, but we are excited to share the list of 6 finalists for the $500,000 investment prize:


  • Elsa: a U.S. based startup, has created a specialized speech recognition engine and training application to help people to speak English with a native accent. Their aim is to help people access new jobs and close the pay gap for non-native speakers that may be held back by their accents.
  • Darmiyan: out of the U.S., has created a platform that uses computer vision on brain MRI scans to detect Alzheimer’s disease up to 15 years before symptoms appear. Darmiyan believes this will allow researchers to find a cure by being able to test therapies and drug candidates on patients before it is too late.
  • Voiceitt: is an Israel-based startup building speech recognition technology designed to understand non-standard and dysarthric speech. Their core mobile application — already in closed beta testing — is a hands-free voice recognition app that enables face-to-face, real-time communication with friends, family, and strangers.
  • Ni20: based in France, is developing a brain-computer interface and on-board AI engine for bi-directional communication with neurons. This will help provide personalized treatment for Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders, and unlock many future scenarios that require detailed signals from the brain.
  • SignAll: based in Hungary, has created the world’s first translation engine for sign language, allowing for seamless communication between deaf and hearing individuals. They are using motion capture, computer vision, and natural language processing to enable this, and hope to use their technologies to aid the roughly 100 million people who are unable to hear.
  • Efficacy Care: based in Israel, is creating a Prescriptive Analytics system to analyze data coming from Healthcare Information Systems to respond in real-time when patients are at risk and prevent adverse outcomes before they happen. Their platform allows healthcare professionals to understand and implement best practices for different conditions and put in place a governance framework to improve patient outcomes and increase operational efficiency.

We will be announcing the ‘AI for Good’ prize and the other winners at the upcoming Collision Conference. Please check back soon to see which of these inspiring startups will win the investment prize.

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