Top 100 AI Startups to Watch in 2020 Announced

The trend watchers at CB Insights this week released its list of the top 100 AI startups. "AI 100: The Artificial Intelligence Startups Redefining Industries" is the analyst firm's fourth annual roundup of nascent AI industry standouts, which this year included new companies from 13 countries that are "pushing the boundaries of AI research and commercial adoption" across 15 industries.

The firm used its own machine learning-based market intelligence platform to cull the list of 100 startups from 5,000 young companies. The selection was based on several factors, the firm says, including patent activity, business relations, investor profile, news sentiment analysis, proprietary Mosaic scores, market potential, competitive landscape, team strength, and tech novelty. The companies were categorized by their main focus area—everything from cybersecurity to synthetic voice, quantum machine learning, protein modeling, and smart home appliances.

The Mosaic Score, based on CB Insights' algorithm, measures the overall health and growth potential of private companies to help predict a company's momentum.

"It's been remarkable to see the success of the companies named to the Artificial Intelligence 100 over the last four years," said CB Insights CEO Anand Sanwal, in a statement. "The 2019 AI 100 saw 48 companies go on to raise $4.9B of additional financing, and nine got acquired…. We look forward to seeing what the 2020 AI 100 companies will accomplish over the course of this year and beyond."

In addition to disrupting core industry verticals, including healthcare, retail, and finance, the 2020 AI 100 companies are revamping the broader enterprise tech stack. These companies span the globe, from the U.S., UK, China, Chile, and South Africa, and are supported by more than 600 investors. In fact, as of the end of February 2020, the 100 emerging private companies in the CB Insights list have raised more than $7.4B in funding from those investors. This year's list includes 10 unicorns (companies valued over $1B). Although 13 countries are represented on the list, the majority of the startups (65%) are based in the U.S.

Just a couple of examples from the list, in no particular order:

  • Beyond Limits a pioneering AI engineering company creating advanced software systems that go beyond conventional AI. Founded in 2014, the company applies a unique hybrid approach to AI, combining numeric AI techniques, such as machine learning, with knowledge-based reasoning to produce actionable intelligence. The end result is faster, better decisions that reduce risk, decrease waste, and increase efficiency.
  • Abnormal Security, an email security company that protects enterprises from previously undetectable targeted email attacks with a data science approach to comprehensive email protection, detection and response.
  • Built Robotics, which builds intelligent robots for the construction industry. The company upgrades off-the-shelf heavy equipment with AI guidance systems, enabling that gear to operate fully autonomously. The company's robots are deployed primarily across the $1 trillion earthmoving industry, and they're being used to build critical infrastructure, such as wind farms, gas pipelines, and new housing developments.
  • Covariant AI, an AI robotics company founded in 2017 by AI researchers and roboticists from UC Berkeley and OpenAI. The company is "bringing the latest artificial intelligence research breakthroughs to the biggest industry opportunities." The Covariant Brain is a universal AI designed to allow robots to see, reason, and act on the world around them.
  • Zebra Medical Vision, provider of "accessible AI for radiology," is a medical imaging company. The company works with millions of imaging and correlated clinical records to create high-performance algorithms that automatically detect medical conditions faster, for numerous findings in parallel. "Over the next few years we expect to release dozens of automated findings and insights to help radiologists provide more comprehensive, accurate outcomes, faster, without compromising quality of care," the company says.

CB Insights has scheduled a webinar walkthrough of its latest AI 100 list (March 19), led by their lead intelligence analyst Deepashri Varadharajan, who specializes in "the intersection of AI and different industries."

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at