Using the CB Insights platform, we track where AI is heating up, from health, to finance, to entertainment.
Since 2014, more than 4.3K AI startups have raised equity funding globally.
The majority of these companies — like unicorns Bytedance, UiPath, Automation Anywhere, and Face++ — sell AI software-as-a-service or run AI-powered platforms. Others use AI to develop their core products, including Indigo Ag, which leverages machine learning to develop microbial seed treatments. Some — such as Graphcore, Cambricon, and Cerebras — focus on hardware to support AI workloads.
In our heatmap below, we look at deals to AI startups categorized by one of 19 core industries they operate in (from healthcare to finance), or by one of 13 cross-industry applications that the startup focuses on (from sales to cybersecurity).
CB Insights clients can click on the heatmap to view AI deals in each industry on CB Insights Stories. See category descriptions below.
(Note: The heatmap includes deals to autonomous cars, trucks, and tractors, but excludes other hardware-focused robotics startups, as well as companies operating solely in the AR/VR space.)
DISTRIBUTION OF 8,410 EQUITY deals TO AI STARTUPS (Q1’14 — Q4’19)
Aerospace & defense: Startups using AI and computer vision for threat detection systems, security screening, aircraft design, and drone navigation.
Agriculture: Companies in this group leverage AI for scouting, phenotyping, plant biotech, yield forecasting, and disease identification. This category also includes AI applications in aquaculture. (Below is a snapshot of AI agriculture deals in CB Insights Stories).
Construction: Applications here include heavy industrial asset monitoring (specifically focused on the construction sector), aerial data analytics, and project management tools.
Consumer electronics: Startups in this group are working on AI-enabled smart home devices (including facial recognition for smart home security cameras), smart glasses & wearables for assisted living, and consumer-focused AI apps for smartphones.
Education: This category includes companies working on speech analysis and NLP for language coaching, summarizing research material, automatic paper grading & writing feedback, and generating personalized learning content, among other applications.
Finance & insurance: Startups here work on applications including compliance, fraud detection, back office automation, personalized finance management, underwriting, and chatbots specific to the finance and insurance industries.
Government: This category includes startups working on smart city planning, surveillance, urban space design, disaster management & recovery, predicting policy outcomes, water utility management, and more.
Healthcare: Startups in this category sell AI software-as-a-service to corporate legal teams and law firms for e-discovery, contract drafting, document review, and compliance monitoring.
Legal & compliance: Startups selling AI software-as-a-service to corporate legal teams and law firms for e-discovery, contract drafting, document review, and compliance monitoring.
Manufacturing: Companies here leverage AI for asset tracking, quality inspection, operational efficiency, new material discovery, outcome predictions for design changes in product design, among other smart manufacturing solutions.
Media & entertainment: Startups in this group use AI for gaming applications, video & audio curation and indexing, personalized news content generation, consumer-focused entertainment apps, photo editing & enhancement, among others.
Mining: Applications here include AI to improve search & exploration for natural resources and business intelligence tools specific to mining.
Oil & gas: Applications here include AI to improve drilling efficiency, pipeline asset management, well optimization, and operation intelligence for shale.
Real estate: Startups here use AI for property valuation, commercial building operations optimization, virtual assistants for home searches, computer vision & 3D modeling for interior design, and AI-based investment management for commercial real estate.
Retail & CPG: Companies here harness AI for merchandising, inventory management, checkout-free store tech, point-of-sale shrinkage monitoring, omnichannel marketing (specific to retail clients), retail supply chain optimization, and e-commerce search, among other applications.
Telecom: Startups in this group work on applications including deep learning for signal processing, anomaly detection, spectrum monitoring, and AI-enabled WLAN assistance.
Transportation & logistics: Startups in this category build autonomous vehicles, perception software, fleet management solutions, deep learning for HD map generation, predictive vehicle maintenance, driver monitoring systems, and AV simulation software, among other things.
Travel & hospitality: Startups here develop AI tools for dynamic pricing, travel search, travel photo curation, virtual travel assistants, automatic expense reporting tools for corporate travel, among other applications.
Utility & energy: Applications here include predictive maintenance for power plants, energy supply & demand prediction, power optimization, battery optimization (utility-scale), and energy management for micro-grids & buildings.
Cross-Industry Enterprise Tech Stack
The following AI applications are industry agnostic and offer solutions relevant to multiple industries from the list above.
AI processors: Companies here develop edge and data-center chips for AI workloads, quantum computers deployed for AI computations, and AI-assisted design & manufacturing of semiconductor devices.
Data management & analytics: Startups here are focused on applications including annotating training data, platforms for machine learning model deployment, plug-and-play analytics solutions for enterprises, AI training frameworks, DRAM management software, and database management tools.
Cybersecurity: Startups here are using machine learning to monitor activity on systems & networks in real-time, identify patterns & anomalies from internal and external data streams, speed up detection, free-up resources, enable faster remediation, and generally help improve continuous cyber resilience.
Software development: Startups in this category focus on automated code testing and debugging, AI-assisted web design, chatbot creation platforms, AI-assisted cross-platform app development, and other software development solutions.
IT & DevOps: Startups in this group are focused on virtual server and hybrid cloud management solutions for machine learning, AI-enabled solutions for application deployment, reducing IT operations costs, log management, and CI/CD pipeline management.
Speech, NLP & NLG, computer vision: Companies here are developing industry-agnostic speech analysis, natural language processing (and generation), language translation, transcription services, facial recognition, object recognition, and conversational AI platforms.
BI & operational intelligence: The category includes startups providing location intelligence (including geospatial/satellite image analysis), competitive intelligence through social media monitoring, and predictive maintenance & physical asset management across a wide range of industries.
Process automation: This category includes robotic process automation startups automating repetitive tasks.
Sales & CRM: Startups here develop machine learning applications for sales pipeline management and customer service.
Ad & marketing: Startups here use AI for personalized marketing and targeted advertising.
Productivity & project management: Companies in this category develop AI assistants for scheduling meetings, bots for teams, NLP for searching & retrieving information from multiple sources such as Gmail and Slack, and other employee support tools.
HR tech: Companies here use machine learning for resume parsing, talent recruitment, eliminating hiring bias, and physical ID verification for onboarding.
Other research & consultancies: The category includes startups focused on advancing core AI research, building AI software for robotics applications, and taking a consultancy approach when working with enterprises to build custom AI solutions.
This report was created with data from CB Insights’ emerging technology insights platform, which offers clarity into emerging tech and new business strategies through tools like:
- Earnings Transcripts Search Engine & Analytics to get an information edge on competitors’ and incumbents’ strategies
- Patent Analytics to see where innovation is happening next
- Company Mosaic Scores to evaluate startup health, based on our National Science Foundation-backed algorithm
- Business Relationships to quickly see a company’s competitors, partners, and more
- Market Sizing Tools to visualize market growth and spot the next big opportunity