Skolkovo Companies Successfully Pitch AI Solutions at UN's "AI for Good" Summit
Five Russian companies, four of which are Skolkovo residents, pitched their sustainable AI-based solutions at the UN global summit “AI for Good.” The five companies were selected from a group of 40 startups that offered solutions tackling the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs).
While the audience comprised government and corporate bodies, as well as a wider audience, the active audience was made up of a panel of four expert judges that offered feedback and constructive advice to the pitching startups.
The startup companies – Oz Forensics, Intellogic (Botkin.AI), Sol, BioGeoHab, and EMBLE – are part of the Skolkovo innovation center’s Sk[ai]HUB, a project that brings together Russia’s best AI companies. Sergey Dutov, , the founder and project leader of Sk[ai]HUB, an ecosystem for ai companies, offered opening words of welcome.
“It is an honor for me to speak and it is an honor for the Skolkovo Foundation to be a co-organizer at this event,” said Mr. Dutov. “Skolkovo is the biggest Russian high-tech ecosystem and includes two thousand five hundred startups, over a hundred corporate R&D centers, Skoltech – a leading scientific university – and more than two thousand citizens on four hundred hectares. Two years ago, we began paying additional attention to artificial intelligence, having been inspired by the AI for Good global summit, ITU and UN initiatives. That is why we launched the Global Challenge program to promote sustainable development goals among the high-tech community globally, and to bring the best AI-solutions from our AI map. Forty companies are on that map and five of them are pitching here today.”
The panel of judges comprised four prominent experts hailing from different parts of the globe: Sasha Cahill, a serial entrepreneur in MedTech commercialization; Vera Futorjanski, the CEO and founder of Veritas Ventures and an innovation expert at the UN; Neil Sahota, an IBM master inventor, a UN artificial intelligence subject matter expert, and lecturer at UC Irvine; and Anna Gishko, an investment manager at Terra VC.
Neil Sahota IBM master inventor, a UN artificial intelligence subject matter expert. Screengrab: Sk.ru
During their opening statements, the judges underscored the changes taking place in the global market, especially in the context of Covid-19 disrupting society and the world economy. The pandemic has driven the need for AI-based solutions and the role of AI will be crucial not just in helping humanity cope with the fallout from this crisis, but also in tackling the looming climate change crisis, poverty, improving the gender balance, improving health, and so on.
According to Mr. Sahota, the pandemic has made people in the technology sphere realize how much data needs to be processed quickly and that this is driving the need for “external vision.” The result is that a lot more attention is being directed towards building AI tools and solutions to accelerate towards solving current problems.
Such is the interest in AI that Anna Gishko’s own venture capital firm has already invested in artificial intelligence, primarily in industrial directions but also in education and is now interested in AI solutions for the medical sector. Vera Futorjanski also stressed the importance of AI for wellness and wellbeing in the post-Covid world and that the focus of her new VC will be on digital healthcare and food security.
The five companies offered AI-solutions for sectors worlds apart from one another. EMBLE has developed an AI solution designed to monitor and test for respiratory diseases in horses. One of the main reasons behind this is the high costs associated with maintaining horses, especially with regards to health. According to EMBLE representative Alexey Irkov, the solution is significantly cheaper, safer and faster than current methods for monitoring equine health with regards to respiratory diseases. The solution could eventually be applied to other areas such as humans and livestock, with the appropriate data sets. Given that the horse population is relatively small in Russia, the company is looking to Europe and the United States for potential clients.
The BioGeoHab solution tackles the challenges associated with mapping oceans by offering AI for video data analysis, monitoring fish stocks, monitoring the level of plastic rubbish in the oceans, and so on. The startup proposes that its solution can reduce a six-month seabed mapping project to a single day. It does not “replace” marine biologists; it is a tool they can use that will greatly increase their productivity. Its target clients are B2B.
Botkin.AI’s solution offers an AI-powered radiology platform designed to analyze, with a very high degree of accuracy, mammogram and lung images for oncological diseases and other illnesses. A given healthcare authority supplies diagnostic images to the platform which then analyses them; expert radiologists then make additional assessments of the AI results. The company is already active outside of Russia.
The Oz Forensics solution is an AI-based identification tool that recognizes people and documents with 99.87% accuracy. The tool has been implemented in sectors such as telecom, digital banking, microfinance, civil aviation, and fintech. According to the company, aside from the high accuracy, the solution is easy to integrate, 60% faster in verifying a client, and offers customers 20% in savings. Given the levels of digital fraud in today’s world, such a solution offers companies a means to prevent losses.
SOL company’s AI-based service for the deaf is designed to interpret sign language. The company posits that everyday challenges that deaf people encounter can be solved using an AI that can read their sign language, interpreting it for people that don’t know sign language. The solution can be placed in the form of a terminal in an office setting, on a mobile phone, at a call center, and can be rented in cloud or installed into closed systems. The solution could also be installed in hospitals, banks, private companies, transport, and state entities. There are 500k deaf people in Russia and the CIS alone and over 18 million worldwide, so the solution tackles a genuine problem.