Rockstart has held the Demo Day of Europe's first AI acceleration program that will come to an end with the AI Summit on May 23. The startups took the stage to show off their progress and fundraising roadmap to an audience of investors, mentors, and other members of the Rockstart AI ecosystem.
The startups in the Rockstart AI accelerator have already spent about five months in 's-Hertogenbosch, based in the beautiful campus of the Jheronimus Academy of Data Science (JADS), a partner of the program. JADS hosted the Demo Day itself in its event space that used to be a chapel, creating an unparalleled eclectic ambiance.
“Our approach of running a purposely wide program for teams applying artificial intelligence in different domains has definitely proved beneficial for the startups, as it created an ideal environment for them to experiment with their products and value propositions,” said Rune Theill, co-founder and CEO of Rockstart. “Today I’m extremely excited to see how much progress our startups have been able to make in just five months, and I’m sure they will keep growing rapidly after they graduate.”
At the beginning of the program, the startups received a cash injection of €20,000 together with a promise that one of them would also be eligible for extra funding from one of the program's investors. As the program progressed, the additional funding of €200,000 went to Aziobot, a startup from India that's working on autonomous cleaning robots for industrial and retail use.
During the acceleration program, which kicked off with a launching event during World Summit AI, the startups have worked on their products with the support by the program team, as well as more than 30 mentors and 11 partners. One of the partners is the municipality of ’s-Hertogenbosch itself, which is working actively with one of the program startups, Peazy, providing valuable data and insights into parking dynamics.
“Any city is like a living organism, with it specific features, traits, and issues that need to be fixed,” said Ron Bos, traffic planner at the ’s-Hertogenbosch municipality. “As a municipality, we believe that our city needs smart approaches to become a better place to live in. That's why we're excited to work with startups, which are the main source of innovation in today's economy. We aim to pair the creativity and energy of the entrepreneurial teams coming from Rockstart with our own experience to achieve meaningful results in a faster and more efficient way.”
The other partners of the program are Exact, de Volksbank, VodafoneZiggo, JADS, BOM Capital, Province Noord-Brabant, Kadans, NVIDIA, Atlassian, Wintertaling, and Grant Thornton. All of them have provided valuable input for the startups during the program and offered all kinds of guidance and support in their respective fields of business.
At the Demo Day, the startups that are going through the program presented the progress they’ve made over the past five months and their ambition to raise seed funding in order to expand operations or deepen the R&D effort.
AirSquire, a startup from Singapore that reinvents the way architects and construction companies check 3D models, has started its first pilot projects in the industry. Companies like VolkerWessels and Pelser Hartman have become the startup’s first customers. Recently AirSquire also was among the winners of the Synchro4D digital construction hackathon.
Aziobot, which has already received €200,000 in funding from one of Rockstart’s investors, is hard at work building the prototype of an autonomous cleaning robot for large retailers and managers of large spaces. During the Demo Day, the team showed a video demonstration of an early version of the machine.
After proving value inspecting the first wind turbines of Wien Energy (Austrian Energy Provider), Birds.ai closed a contract to inspect the company’s complete field of wind turbines this year. In advance of the Demo Day, a number of telecom enterprises contacted the team to open talks on inspecting their most valuable assets—mobile antenna systems. Birds.ai is now upgrading its platform for massive scale and ready for next steps.
Baarb, a “Netflix-like” recommender system for travelers to book hotels, has been able to land a few large pilot customers and is hard at work delivering value for them. It analyzes hundreds of millions of data points, structured and unstructured, some exclusive to Baarb, to deliver personalized results. In addition to that, the startup founder Barbara Parshall has been officially proclaimed one of the most badass female entrepreneurs in the Netherlands.
Cambridge Humanae, which combines psychological tests and AI to understand human reliability, is experimenting with its strategy and business model after receiving valuable insights from the Rockstart network. The startup is developing a SaaS monitoring platform, which would allow to increase accuracy of stress monitoring over time.
GeoSpark, which has developed an AI-based technology that allows location-based apps to consume a fraction of power it’d normally need, has launched its Developer Platform and API. Just in three weeks afterwards, it was incorporated by more than 300 applications serving about 70,000 monthly active users.
The team from South Africa, nFold, is building a platform for corporate and agency recruiters to match candidates and vacancies by leveraging each other’s networks and databases. In the first two months of existence nFold attracted almost 20 recruitment agencies to form a trusted network. The startup is about halfway at rising a €150,000 funding round from angel investors.
OPT/NET is working on a tool for telecom and service providers which helps prevent major incidents (outages) on the critical networks, and keeps their customers happy and protected from operational and cyber threats. The startup has recently launched its newest iteration (4.0) of the OPTOSS platform, which is currently being used in several pilots with the leading telecom providers in the Netherlands.
The team of Peazy is still on a mission to revolutionize city parking using AI to predict availability and demand. The revolution has begun from Den Bosch where the Rockstart program is located: the city municipality has become the startup’s pilot customer. Peazy is planning to expand to the cities of Amsterdam, Eindhoven, and Rotterdam soon.