Blog Post: Artificial Intelligence and what Colorado can do to help these startups succeed
by Tim Jones, Innosphere Program Director
Over the course of supporting a cohort of startup companies utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) last summer, Innosphere saw a vibrant landscape of early stage startup companies that are aiming to transform a variety of markets — Everything from biosciences, to apiary services, to environmental monitoring.
Even though the 12 companies Innosphere supported in the AI cohort are going to serve many different markets, they have similar challenges to build out their businesses. In July, CB Insights released a view “deals by industry” and it showed increased activity across a broad range of markets. Virtually all markets tracked have seen an accelerated number of deals over the past five years. Clearly there is plenty interest from the equity market to fund companies with a focus on artificial intelligence.
What Innosphere learned about AI in Colorado over the past year:
- There is a vibrant community interested in AI and actively applying it to a variety of markets. It appears that most markets will be shaped by AI over the next few years.
- There is a broad swath of startup companies that are offering solutions in many different business applications. These startup companies are creatively solving problems with innovative tools that address areas that have traditionally been unable or difficult to understand. Startups typically have the idea and a vision to solve the problems, but may have to rely on more established companies for large databases to help tune these tools.
- More established companies are interested in using AI to drive operational efficiencies. This is an “easy” win within the company that can show significant return on investment without causing upheaval in their products and services.
- Some more established companies are struggling with how to integrate AI into their product offerings. In many cases AI will be very disruptive to their current business models.
Although AI has long been dreamed of and as a technology seen significant advances over the past 50 years, it never seemed to take hold
and become a viable commercial offering. More recently, advances in HW and SW have been able to create an ecosystem that is powerful enough and cost effective to be able to deploy as part of commercial solutions. These Colorado companies are going to participate in this growth and have shown a very creative side to deploying AI in novel ways.
What can we do in Colorado to help these startup companies succeed?
I recently saw research that linked amount of education of the workforce to per capita GDP. This isn’t surprising by itself, but for me it was the amount of the impact that was surprising. After high school each year of education yielded ~17% increase in per capita GDP. The reason why this is important is that one of the significant issues these startups are faced with is where to obtain talent in the AI space.
Are the universities creating enough data scientists and machine engineers? Even if the local universities are graduating significant numbers of trained individuals, do we have an ecosystem in Colorado that will keep these people here? With that in mind, many data scientist migrate to the coasts to interact with other data scientists. Will Colorado be able to create a culture that is attractive to these people working in the AI community? Our experience with these 12 startup companies is that by connecting folks that have an interest in artificial intelligence together, there are plenty of opportunities to work through talent problems and potentially share these resources. Creating these opportunities is significant to ensuring these resources feel connected and can interact with others interested in solving similar problems. This will ultimately create a robust community of talent focused on artificial intelligence.
One other thing we learned is that we are a long way from robots taking over the world and implementing their own rules. So, rest easy and enjoy the ride as technology continues to advance our understanding of the world around us.
If your startup company is interested in accelerating the use of AI and/or how to commercialize your product in the AI space, reach out to Innosphere — we can help.
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