A Guide to AI Accelerators

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LIST OF AI ACCELERATORS AND INCUBATORS

Here is a list of 28 accelerators and incubators which focus on AI:

 

AI Nexus Lab (NY): an intensive program run by Future Labs (NYU) and ff Venture Capital. During the program, the startups can get access even to NYU AI faculty, which means for some lucky entrepreneurs to potentially have the chance to work along side with Yann LeCun. They have just announced their first cohort: Alpha VertexBehold.aiCambrian IntelligenceHelloVera,Klustera;

Alexa Accelerator (Seattle): powered by Alexa Fund in collaboration with Techstars, this accelerator has the goal of advancing voice-powered technologies. As one of the Techstars programs, startups receive $100k of funding upon acceptance in convertible notes, as well as $20k in exchange for 6% of equity (with a ‘Equity Back Guarantee’ clause, which basically gives the founders that chance to lower up to zero Techstars’ equity position within three days from the end of the program).

Bosch DNA(Berlin): the Indo-German accelerator targets startups in different areas which uses enabling technologies such as deep learning, analytics, AI and machine learning to go from “Lab to Market”. The Nurture program lasts for 18 weeks: the first 3 weeks are dedicated to idea validation, a short 10-days bootcamp, and mentors meeting. Phase II is about 10 weeks mainly running through customer validation, while finally phase III concerns pitching preparation for final demo days. Usually 5 Indian and 5 German startups are selected;

Botcamp (NY): run by Betaworks’ team (very good media investors), it is a program specifically designed for conversational interfaces. A $200,000 uncapped, safe note with a 25% discount is offered to companies;

Comet Labs (Bay area): I have already mentioned Comet Labs Research Team in a previous article on AI investors, but they are also product builders. They will run different ‘labs’ starting from this April. The first one just announced is the Transportation Lab, with two more to follow. The first cohort includes 7 (impressive to me) companies: NomokoAutoXOculiiDeep VisionMinds.aiPoint OneSyntouch. They do not provide an investment by default but rather on a case by case basis (in the form of a warrant, a convertible note, or a discounted equity investment);

Creative Destruction Lab (Toronto): this is a program longer than usual, but aimed to support entrepreneurs with an MVP with mentorship on how to raise a round, develop the go-to-market strategy and deal with legal, accounting, and other business processes;

CyberLaunch (Atlanta): accelerator coming out from Georgia tech scene and with a focus on machine learning and information security. It is Chris Klaus’ second accelerator after Neurolaunch (focusing on neuroscience startups).
They have incubated companies like C3SecurityChincapiCyberdotDiascaniTreatMDRealfactor.ioSecurolyticsVyrilland  Yaxa

Data Elite Ventures (Bay area): Tasso Argyros and Stamos Venios founded DEV in 2013 with the idea of accelerating and investing in big data companies. They look to be inactive for a while (or at least off the radar), despite having supported good companies (UnravelWeft451 Degrees) and an exit done (Weft has been acquired by Genscape last year);

Deep Science Ventures (London): DeepScienceVentures is not a focused AI oriented accelerator, but rather a deep tech lab where to incubate ideas. It targets people rather than companies, as you can notice from their cohort (very similar to what EF is doing). As a scientist, you join the DSV team for a 3-months internship and if you find the right idea and co-founders, you get access to the following 3-months of MVP prototyping;

Element AI (Montreal): created by famous AI scientist Yoshua BengioJS CournoyerJean-Francois GagnéNicolas Chapados this lab lies on the idea the Canadian AI ecosystem is still one of the strongest worldwide — and this is very true about talents as well as funding raised. It is a mixed between a pure research lab and an incubator, and it has been backed up by Real Ventures. Very recent news: they acquired the entire team at MLDB.ai, an open source machine learning database;

Eonify (Los Angeles): they focus on the healthcare vertical, so they offer perks such as help for Protocol development, regulatory applications, clinical trial design, or grant writing.

Founders Factory (London): the Factory is a much wider accelerator who happens to have though a specific track for AI companies. The idea seems to be co-creation/development of two-three AI businesses within the acceleration program every year, for five years. The first two companies, recently announced, are Iris.ai (science research assistant) and Illumr (organizational pattern detection);

IBM Alphazone (Israel): IBM created this accelerator with the goal in mind of fostering long-term technology and business partnerships with smaller companies in the Cloud, Big Data & Analytics and IoT space. They have another partnership in place with Becton, Dickinson and Company to jointly select up to 3 startups in healthcare delivery and decision making. For those startups they offer extra professional mentorship and matter experts, as well as a grant of up to $25,000. They supported NeuroAppliedMagentiq Eye and Articoolo;

Innovat8 Connect (Singapore): a program that brings startups to work along side with Singtel group to develop new solutions useful to the group itself. Singtel Innov8, the VC arm of group (fund size of $250M) follows up with investments where and if needed. A good example of the program output is Xjera;

Kapsch Factory1 (Vienna): The Factory1 Kapsch TrafficCom Accelerator 2017 is an acceleration program with a focus on future intelligent mobility solutions (Connected & Autonomous Driving, Big Data Analytics & Deep Learning, Smart Mobility). The CEO and a second team member (preferably the CTO) will have to be present in Vienna for the Kick-Off Bootcamp, the three Acceleration Weeks in Vienna and Berlin and the Demo Day in Montréal (Canada). All travel and accommodation costs are covered;

Merantix (Berlin): run by Rasmus Rothe (co-founder with Adrian Locher), Merantix is a venture builder specialized in AI and with a stronger focus on four specific verticals: Finance, Healthcare, Advertising and Automotive;

Microsoft Accelerator (Bangalore): this accelerator program is within for a different reason. It has not been set up, to my knowledge, as an AI-accelerator, but though in the last cohort all the 14 companies accepted  were doing some sort of AI/machine learning. In other words, this is the first ‘ex-post AI’accelerator, because it has been changing its own nature by the companies it selected;

NextAI(Toronto): a Canadian accelerator for startups with no previous funding. You can apply either as individual as well as a team (but first always apply as individual). It provides startups with a capital of 50k CAD with can be increased by a 30k as well as other 150k throughout the program for top performing teams incorporating a venture ($50,000 for a SAFE with a $2mm CAP and up to an additional $150,000 no CAP, 20% discount to next round);

Nvidia Inception (Virtual): this is a virtual accelerator program that helps startups during product development, prototyping, and deployment. They can apply for GPU hardware grants and the NVIDIA Deep Learning Institute (DLI) will show the latest techniques in designing, training, and deploying neural network-powered machine learning in different applications. With respect to others, it looks like a soft program, but it directly makes startups to be considered for the GPU Ventures Program ($500K — $5M, and help in sales & marketing, joint development, and product distribution);

Play Labs (Cambridge, MA): this is a brand new accelerator, apparently only for MIT students and alumni. They have a strong focus on gamification and ‘playful technologies’, and provide companies with $20k funding plus other $80k (typically in convertible notes) at the end if certain requirements are met;

Rockstart AI Accelerator (Netherlands): usually these guys run 5–6 months accelerators in Netherlands. The new program in AI is starting accepting applications in May and it will cost 6% of equity to startups (but only after having raised a further round of funding);

Startup Garage (Facebook) (Paris): another brand new accelerator sponsored by Facebook within the startup campus called Station F. Facebook will provide 80 desks and space for 10–15 data-driven startups fro 6 months at no cost (or obligations to use FB products), as well as operational mentoring (marketing, legal, etc.) and technical help (from FAIR — Facebook AI Research). This confirms Facebook’s strategy to have a stronger technical presence in Europe and the ability of France to potentially become one of the major AI hub worldwide. According to VentureBeat, they have already selected a few startups for the first incoming program (Chekk;MapstrThe FabulousOnecubKaros);

TechCode Global AI+ (Bay area): TechCode is a global network of startup incubators and entrepreneur ecosystems which will especially help companies in approaching the Chinese and Asian markets. 10 startups out of the 50 they selected for the program will benefit from an initial investment of $50k. Originally, they would earn a ‘success fee and equity stake’ only if the startup raised funding within 12monthsfrom the end of the program. Not sure how this changed for the Global AI+ program;

The Hive (Bay area): they define it as a ‘co-creation studio to build and launch startups’ in AI (subdivided in deep learning, blockchain, AR, ‘ambient intelligence’ and ‘context computing’). They built companies as SensifySnips and Skry with their $22M second fund. They also host a meetup called ‘The Hive Think Tank’. Their business model is a bit atypical but not completely new: simply speaking, they either incubate existing companies or they think the idea, create the MVP and recruit executives to run this new startup;

Voicecamp (Betaworks) (NY): as Botcamp above, this is also run by Patrick Montague and the Betaworks team but focuses on early stage companies building voice-based products. $200k uncapped, SAFE note with a 25% discount is offered to all the startups accepted.

Winton Labs (London): the famous hedge-fund is now presenting the second cohort of its data science accelerator. First of all, it is really interesting to me that an investment firm in London decides to start an accelerator program without asking for anything in return. But it is more interesting to see what areas they want startups to work on: machine intelligence, forecasting, innovative data, or wildcard (not clear projects). Startups also get direct exposure to Winton Ventures, of course;

Y Combinator (Bay area): Y Combinator is known to be one of (if not the) best accelerators in the world. They didn’t have any specific focus on AI until now, but they just announced an experimental batch on artificial intelligence. They claim to be agnostic to the industry and would eventually like to fund an AI company in every vertical. A specific thing they are looking for though is Robot Factories, and teams that use deep (reinforcement) learning to help to fix it.

Zeroth AI (Hong Kong): Zeroth.AI is run by tak_lo and his team in Hong Kong, and has a wide spectrum of AI advisors although its young age and 10 early stage AI startups in their first cohort (4 of which in the bots/assistant space). This is probably going to change, with up to 20 startups and optional $120k of funding. The relocation for the program is not mandatory for the entire time frame but highly recommended at the beginning and at the end of the program.

I think it would be worthy to mention two other accelerators that are not explicitly AI-centric, but focus on related hardware: Industrio (Italy), a pure hardware accelerator, and Buildit (Estonia), an ‘accelerator of Things’

Source : Francesco Corea &TopBots

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