InstaDeep has raised $100M in Series B financing, led by Alpha Intelligence Capital and CDIB.
The Tunisian and London-based enterprise AI startup develops decision-making systems to address real-world issues.
The company behind Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine; BioNTech, Chimera Abu Dhabi, Deutsche Bahn’s DB Digital Ventures, Google, G42, and Synergie participated in the round.
Founded by Karim Beguir and Zohra Slim in 2014. The Tunisian startup has its headquarter in London with offices in Paris, Tunis, Lagos, Dubai, and Cape Town.
It employs powerful machine learning techniques to integrate AI into enterprise applications.
On a teleconference with TechCrunch, Beguir, the CEO, stated the eight-year-old company’s AI and machine learning handle a variety of problems.
The company claimed in a statement that it is now working with Deutsche Bahn on a moonshot product to automate railway scheduling.
InstaDeep and BioNTech announced a multi-year strategic partnership two years ago to launch a collaborative AI innovation center.
The goal of the lab was to use the most recent developments in AI and machine learning to generate new immunotherapies.
One of its most successful efforts was the creation of an early warning system (EWS) for detecting high-risk SARS-CoV-2 strains in late November.
InstaDeep also works with Google’s AI research divisions to develop an early detection system for African desert locust epidemics, as well as working on AI initiatives and publishing collaborative research with DeepMind and Google Research.
All three organizations are investors in InstaDeep’s recent financing round, which is a typical feature in these collaborations.
“As our partners and clients, they’ve seen firsthand what the InstaDeep platform and team can accomplish,” Beguir explained.
“So we consider it as a significant milestone, as well as a vote of confidence in our talents and products that they are investing in after years of working closely with us on difficult problems.”
From 2014 through 2018, Beguir and Slim bootstrapped InstaDeep, reinvesting revenue from clients into hiring additional employees and expanding the company.
To scale its systems, the Tunisian startup raised a $7 million Series A round in 2019 from AfricInvest, a pan-African private equity firm, and Endeavor Catalyst, a New York-based venture capital firm.
The corporate AI business wants to use the fresh capital to speed up the launch of revolutionary AI technologies in biotech, logistics, transportation, and electronics manufacturing.
Its use of finances strategy also includes improving its computing infrastructure, expanding into the United States, and recruiting more personnel.
InstaDeep now employs more than 170 people. More than 130 people work in AI research, engineering, machine learning, and DevOps, with half of the workforce working in South Africa, Nigeria, and Tunisia.
Africa was not included in InstaDeep’s analysis of AI’s contribution to global economic growth when it first launched.
While that picture hasn’t altered much, InstaDeep is one of the few African firms, along with South Africa’s Aerobotics and hearX Group, that are attempting to shift the existing quo and give Africa a voice in the future of AI.
“We’ve managed to create a culture of high standards and demonstrate that African talent is capable of competing, working, and cooperating with the best,” Beguir added.
“That’s the narrative we’ve been able to develop.” Today, we’re delighted to have a team that spans Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, with some extremely dedicated African AI researchers and engineers making a difference.
Many investors and watchers in the African tech and AI industry dismissed InstaDeep’s desire to partner with the likes of DeepMind and Google when the business started with “two computers, $2,000, and a lot of passion,” Beguir said on the call.
If technology has taught us anything, it’s that geography isn’t a barrier to attracting worldwide customers.
This is especially true for AI and deep tech, as long as businesses have access to information, experienced talent, and an open AI community.
Beguir, who is half Tunisian and half French, was born and raised in Tunisia but studied engineering and mathematics in France and the United States.
Following a traditional professional path, Beguir founded InstaDeep to demonstrate that African talent could be competitive, make a difference in deep tech, and collaborate and compete with the finest in the world.
“It is feasible to build an internationally competitive company with strong African origins that is also well integrated into the world, focusing on true deep-tech innovation and doing things that haven’t been done before,” stated the CEO.
“That has been our story thus far, and we can’t wait to take it to the next level with our investors and partners, in order to have a good impact on the ecosystems in which we operate and all of our partners.”