Startup Of The Week

Startup Of The Week: InstaDeep

InstaDeep builds AI decision-making systems to tackle complex challenges across a range of industries and sectors. Its technology is being used to develop advanced therapeutics, optimize train routes, conduct rapid scientific computations to map 3D geological data and to design printed circuit boards. Clients include German biotech company BioNTech, the developer of one of the major mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines, Germany’s railway Deutsche Bahn and French energy company Total.

The London-based startup was included in analyst firm CBInsights’ just released “AI 100: The AI Startups Redefining Industries” list.  It is the second year in a row that the company has made the list in the R &D category.

“We are very proud of our ability to go from research innovation to applying these breakthroughs to industries,” says Karim Beguir, Co-Founder and CEO of InstaDeep. “We are bringing technologies into the real world that deliver powerful insights distributed through the Cloud. This is quite new and not easy to achieve but highly promising for companies.”

A relationship with BioNTech that was initiated in 2019 has blossomed into a multi-year strategic collaboration aimed at applying the latest advances in AI and machine learning technology to novel immunotherapies for a range of cancers and other diseases.

 InstaDeep and BioNTech announced in November that they are forming a joint AI Innovation Lab in London and in Mainz, Germany to advance a portfolio of initiatives across drug discovery and design, protein engineering, manufacturing and supply chain optimization. The AI Innovation Lab will combine InstaDeep’s advanced capabilities in the areas of AI, machine learning and digitalization along with BioNTech’s deep domain expertise in precision immunotherapies and its access to a wide variety of internal and external datasets. One of the lab’s key research areas will be the development of next generation vaccines and biopharmaceuticals for the treatment of cancer and prevention and therapy of infectious diseases, including COVID-19.

InstaDeep is separately working with Deutsche Bahn to use its AI decision-making technologies to automate railway planning and dispatching. “Scheduling 10,000 train rides across a 33,000 kilometers train rail network is insanely more difficult than trying to figure out if a picture is of a dog or a cat because when you are using recurring patterns to make decisions in complex environments what you do impacts what happens next,” says Beguir.

In the energy sector InstaDeep is working with France’s Total, which operates one of the world’s largest supercomputers. The startup worked with Total to develop advanced systems to process 3D micro-fossil data and do scientific computations at scale to help figure out the best places to drill for gas and oil.

InstaDeep is also targeting the logistics sector. Large multinationals spend millions to ship containers to other counties. If AI decision-making software could determine how to pack the items more efficiently and save 5% or 10% of the volume, the savings would be substantial, Beguir says.

Electronic chip design is another focus area for InstaDeep. “We are bringing the power of AI decision-making to that area as well, enabling the design of the first printed circuit board purely driven by AI running on the Cloud,” he says.

InstaDeep’s competitors include British AI company Secondmind and Canada’s Element AI, which was purchased by ServiceNow in November 2020.

“What distinguishes us is that we don’t offer a preset group of products,” says Beguir. “We are willing to collaborate with our customers to build world-first products and innovation.”

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About the author

Jennifer L. Schenker

Jennifer L. Schenker

Jennifer L. Schenker, an award-winning journalist, has been covering the global tech industry from Europe since 1985, working full-time, at various points in her career for the Wall Street Journal Europe, Time Magazine, International Herald Tribune, Red Herring and BusinessWeek. She is currently the editor-in-chief of The Innovator, an English-language global publication about the digital transformation of business. Jennifer was voted one of the 50 most inspiring women in technology in Europe in 2015 and 2016 and was named by Forbes Magazine in 2018 as one of the 30 women leaders disrupting tech in France. She has been a World Economic Forum Tech Pioneers judge for 20 years. She lives in Paris and has dual U.S. and French citizenship.