Five Canadian startups named to CB Insights’ 2021 AI 100 list

Five Canadian artificial intelligence (AI) startups have made CB Insights’ fifth annual AI 100 list, which aims to highlight the most promising and innovative private AI companies in the world. CB Insights’ 2021 list includes three representatives from Québec and two from Ontario.

This year’s list includes four new Canadian additions, Coveo, TensTorrent, Algolux, and Brainbox AI. DarwinAI is the only returning Canadian startup from CB Insights’ 2020 edition, which listed seven other Canadian firms.

Of the startups that made this year’s list, Québec City-based Coveo was ranked tenth overall in terms of funding raised.

CB Insights’ team selected these companies from a pool of over 6,000 firms that included applicants and nominees. The research firm based its decisions on factors such as business relations, investor profile, news sentiment analysis, research and development (R&D) activity, proprietary valuation scores, market potential, competitive landscape, team strength, and tech novelty.

“This year’s cohort spans 18 industries, and is working on everything from climate risk to accelerating drug R&D,” said CB Insights CEO Anand Sanwal.

Sixty-four percent of the selected companies are headquartered in the United States, while eight of the winners are based in the United Kingdom, followed by six in China and Israel, and five in Canada.

Of the startups that made this year’s list, Québec City-based Coveo was ranked tenth overall in terms of funding raised. To date, the AI-powered enterprise software provider has raised approximately $446 million CAD in total, far more than any other Canadian tech startup listed.

RELATED: Canada sees improvement from 2019 as eight Canadian startups appear on CB Insights’ AI 100

Coveo is backed by investors that include Fonds de Solidarite FTQ, Evergreen Coast Capital, OMERS Private Equity, Investissement Quebec, and BDC Venture Capital. Last year, it also made CB Insights’ first annual Retail Tech 100.

Coveo was one of three Québec-based startups to crack the list, joining software startup Algolux and commercial HVAC company Brainbox AI, both of which are based in Montréal.

Algolux develops AI-based perception software. According to CB Insights, the startup has raised approximately $19 million from investors that include Drive Capital, Playground Global, Real Ventures, Intact Ventures, and GM Ventures.

Founded in 2017, Brainbox AI aims to develop autonomous HVAC technology for commercial use. According to CB Insights, the startup is backed by Desjardins Capital and Esplanade Ventures. The company raised a $12 million CAD round” last April to expand into new markets.

RELATED: Coveo CEO Louis Tetu believes tech will emerge victorious from COVID-19

TensTorrent, a Toronto startup that develops AI-based computer processors, also made CB’s latest list. Founded in 2016 and backed by Eclipse Ventures and Real Ventures, TensTorrent has raised approximately $21 million to date, according to CB Insights.

Kitchener-Waterloo’s DarwinAI, which made last year’s list as well, cracked CB Insights’ 2021 AI 100. Backed by Obvious Ventures, Inovia Capital, Honeywell Ventures, Plug and Play Accelerator, and ACVC Partners, DarwinAI wants to help developers accelerate deep learning development. The startup aims to combat the “black box” problem by facilitating explainable AI that allows enterprises to build AI models they can trust.

In December, DarwinAI raised approximately $5 million USD. Last year, the startup set its sights on detecting COVID-19, partnering with Red Hat to accelerate the deployment of its coronavirus solution, which it first revealed in March.

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Last year, seven other Canadian tech startups made CB Insights’ AI 100 list: Xanadu, Invenia, Deeplite, Korbit, Cyclica, ProteinQure, and This represented a significant increase compared to 2019, when only one Canadian startup made the list—Montreal’s Element AI. Earlier this year, Element AI was acquired by ServiceNow for $230 million USD.

According to CB Insights, over half of all companies on last year’s AI 100 secured additional financing after being named to the list, raising a total of $5.2 billion, including 16 rounds valued at more than $100 million. Six of all the startups listed in 2020 also exited, three with an initial public offering, two by acquisition, and one via a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).

“As industry after industry adopts AI, we expect this year’s class will see similar levels of interest from investors, acquirers and customers,” said Sanwal.

Photo courtesy of Coveo

Josh Scott

Josh Scott

Josh Scott is a BetaKit reporter focused on telling in-depth Canadian tech stories and breaking news. He is also the winner of SABEW Canada’s 2023 Jeff Sanford Best Young Journalist award. His coverage is more complete than his moustache.

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