Swedish edtech startup Sana Labs bags £13M to redefine workplace training with AI

Sana Labs, a Stockholm-based online training platform, raised $18 million (approx £13.1 million) in a Series A round led by EQT Ventures. The funding round brings the total amount raised to $23 million (approx £17 million). The new funding will be used to invest more in technology R&D, sales-focused marketing, and people to make this happen.

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Honing In on AI, U.S. Launches National Artificial Intelligence Initiative Office

To drive American leadership in the field of AI into the future, the National Artificial Intelligence Initiative Office has been launched by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). The new agency was established under the American Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act of 2020, which was enacted and codified into law to expand many existing AI policies and initiatives throughout the federal government.

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Nayya raises $11 million to guide employee health benefits decisions with AI

Nayya, an insurance benefits management platform, today announced it has closed $11 million in a series A round led by Felicis Ventures. Nayya says the funds will be put toward product research and development as it seeks to acquire new talent and customers.

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Molecula raises $17.6 million for its AI feature store technology

Molecula, which is developing a cloud-based feature store for AI and machine learning workloads, today announced it has raised $17.6 million. The company says the proceeds will be put toward accelerating the launch of its managed cloud service and bolstering its sales and marketing efforts.

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Rapyd raises $300 million for its unified payments platform

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Rapyd, which is developing an all-in-one payments solutions platform, today announced it has raised $300 million, bringing the company’s total raised to over $450 million. CEO Arik Shtilman said the funds will be used to double the size of Rapyd’s engineering and product teams and explore acquisitions globally.
Virtual card spend is projected to grow to $355 billion by 2022, up from $136 billion in 2017, according to Accenture. With annual transaction volumes anticipated to surpass $9 trillion, businesses are increasingly investigating unified payment solutions.

Rapyd offers solutions on the web and mobile, including the ability to accept cash, bank transfers, e-wallets, local debit cards, and over 900 alternative payment methods in more than 100 regions. The platform supports disbursements in over 170 countries and multicurrency settlement to a single file across 65 currencies. Moreover, it delivers real-time foreign exchange, ID verification via document scanning, and anti-money laundering and counter financing terrorism (AML/CFT) services.
Rapyd offers an API, a software development kit that integrates with existing apps, and responsive designs for merchant checkout flows. The checkout solution can stand alone or coexist with gateways and local payment systems, while Rapyd’s white-label wallet platform ships with features targeting retail shops and rewards programs.
Rapyd competes with a number of well-established companies in a financial tech sector estimated at $147.37 billion as of year-end 2018, including Ayden, PayPal, and Stripe. But Rapyd hit around $100 million in revenue last year at a pre-money valuation of $1.2 billion, driven by the fees it levies on payments and multicurrency transactions (3.5% plus 30 cents for funds in and $1.50 plus 1% for exchanges).

Over the past year, Rapyd has expanded its network with new and existing products for Thailand, South Korea, Mexico, India, Brazil, and the U.K. It also acquired Iceland-based payment card service provider Korta, inked agreements with Visa and Mastercard, launched an anti-fraud service called Rapyd Protect, and partnered with payments technology company InComm to support cash bill pay and load solutions at participating retailers in the U.S.
“The demand for online payments has skyrocketed following the restrictions due to the effects of COVID-19, and as a company, we are well-placed to provide businesses across the globe with the solutions they need and to get them up and running fast,” Shtilman said in a statement. “To kick off 2021 with this substantial round of funding to further invest in our platform is a tremendous vote of confidence both in the growing need for local payment solutions that can be deployed at scale globally, and more specifically in our vision and company.”
Coatue led the series D funding round announced today, with participation from Spark Capital, Avid Ventures, FJ Labs, and Latitude. Current backers General Catalyst, Oak HC/FT, Tiger Global, Target Global, Durable Capital, Tal Capital, and Entrée Capital also contributed. Rapyd has offices in London and Mountain View, California.

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What this bald eagle and neural network depiction have to do with future U.S. AI strategy

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) today announced the launch of the National Artificial Intelligence Initiative Office, an organization that will coordinate and oversee national AI policy initiatives for the United States government. “The Office is charged with overseeing and implementing the United States national AI strategy and will serve as the central hub for federal coordination and collaboration in AI research and policymaking across the government, as well as with private sector, academia, and other stakeholders,” according to a White House statement.

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Google trained a trillion-parameter AI language model

Parameters are the key to machine learning algorithms. They’re the part of the model that’s learned from historical training data. Generally speaking, in the language domain, the correlation between the number of parameters and sophistication has held up remarkably well. For example, OpenAI’s GPT-3 — one of the largest language models ever trained, at 175 billion parameters — can make primitive analogies, generate recipes, and even complete basic code.

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Workato raises $110 million for its business workflow automation platform

Workato, which offers an integration and automation platform for businesses, today announced it has raised $110 million at a post-money valuation of $1.7 billion. The company says it will put the funds toward product innovation and technology development, expanding its customer success program, launching its first user conference in 2021, and investing in scaling teams in the U.S. and internationally.

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M-Files raises $80 million for AI that automates enterprise information management

M-Files announced it has raised $80 million as the Finnish company develops AI that automates the messy process of organizing and tracking internal documents and data for enterprises. Bregal Milestone led the round, which included previous investors Partech, Tesi, and Draper Esprit.

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$400M in C2 funding raised by automotive AI Chip vendor Horizon Robotics

Horizon Robotics, a Chinese automotive AI chip startup that is developing specialized, complex chips for use in autonomous vehicles, has raised another $400 million in its latest C2 round of funding. That’s on top of $150 million in C2 funding that it secured earlier in December, according to the company, bringing its total C2 funding so far to $550 million. Horizon Robotics had announced late in 2020 that it was pursuing a total of $700 million in C2 round funding.

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Pegasystems acquires Qurious.io to apply speech analytics to customer service

Pegasystems announced today it has acquired Qurious.io, a provider of a cloud service that analyzes voice calls in real time to enable customer service representatives to better determine their next best course of action. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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Komodo raises $44 million and acquires Mavens to bring data-driven insights to life sciences

Komodo Health, a company that is meshing big data, AI, and analytics to create a digital map of the U.S. health care system, announced that it quietly secured a $44 million cash injection last year in a series D round of funding led by Iconiq.

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Dina raises $7 million for its AI-powered at-home care platform

Dina, a Chicago-based startup developing an AI-powered at-home care platform, today announced it has raised $7 million. The company says the capital will be used to expand its products and support its mission to help the health care industry transition to in-home care.

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Ambarella unveils 8K AI vision processor for car, drone, and robot cameras

Ambarella has unveiled the CV5 AI Vision Processor to handle 8K image processing for car, consumer, crone, and robot cameras. The new 5-nanometer camera system on chip (SoC) is the latest in the company’s CVflow family, and it consumes under 2 watts of power. The chip is about 4 times more powerful than the previous-generation chip.

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How to retain your institutional knowledge when employees retire (& how can AI simplify this)

Since skills, knowledge and experience are vital to a successful business and the pace in which it innovates, retaining existing institutional knowledge is an increasing priority. How can you guarantee that your company’s know-how won’t just walk out the door and jeopardise your brand and positioning? The short answer is: You can’t. But there are ways that utilising a combination of analytics, IoT, and AI techniques, along with corporate training and knowledge replacement strategies, can help.

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Top-down and end-to-end governance for the responsible use of AI

Responsible AI is a broad topic covering multiple dimensions of the socio-technical system called Artificial Intelligence. We refer to AI as a socio-technical system here as it captures the interaction between humans and how we interact with AI. In the first part of this series we looked at AI risks from five dimensions. In the second part of this series we look at the ten principles of Responsible AI for corporates.

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Equifax will pay $640 million for Kount’s AI-driven identity and fraud prevention tools

Equifax today announced that it would pay $640 million to acquire Kount, a company that uses artificial intelligence to drive its fraud prevention and digital identity services. In a press release, Equifax executives said the deal would allow the company to further expand into these markets. Kount uses AI to analyze 32 billion transactions across 17 billion devices. As the system builds its intelligence, it is shifting from only analysis to predictive modes with the goal of helping companies prevent digital fraud.

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Blue Prism launches venture fund to expand global use of cloud RPA

Last April, robotic process automation firm Blue Prism bolstered its own balance sheet with a $124 million financing round, enabling the maker of enterprise-class software robots to expand its suite of AI agents and dashboards. Now the company is launching a venture fund to bring RPA technologies to new clients, starting with the Asia-Pacific region before expanding to “the entire globe.”

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Stanford researchers propose AI that figures out how to use real-world objects

One longstanding goal of AI research is to allow robots to meaningfully interact with real-world environments. In a recent paper, researchers at Stanford and Facebook took a step toward this by extracting information related to actions like pushing or pulling objects with movable parts and using it to train an AI model. For example, given a drawer, their model can predict that applying a pulling force on the handle would open the drawer.

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