Norway’s Iris.ai bags €2.4M grant, €12M funding from EIC to use AI for scientific text interpretation

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Oslo-based Iris.ai, a company that provides an AI engine for scientific text understanding, announced on Wednesday that it has been selected by the European Innovation Council (EIC) to receive €2.4M in grants and up to €12M in equity investments from the 2022 EIC Fund.

Iris.ai was one of 78 successful companies and one of just 15 per cent of firms with a female CEO picked from over 1,000 qualified applicants.

The EIC is a flagship European programme to identify, develop, and scale up breakthrough technologies. The EIC, now in its third year as a full-fledged EU fund, has a €470M budget to assist the European economy by funding the most promising ideas throughout the continent. 

Research discovery with artificial intelligence

Iris.ai was founded in 2015 by Anita Schjøll Abildgaard, Victor Botev, and Jacobo Elosua. It is an AI engine for scientific text understanding that supports knowledge processing needs for research. The company’s Researcher Workspace solution provides smart search and a wide range of smart filters, reading list analysis, auto-generated summaries, autonomous extraction, and systematising of data.

Iris.ai assists its clients, ranging from corporate R&D divisions to academic researchers, in reducing the time spent analysing scientific knowledge. It claims to radically speed up the processing of information from a massive body of scientific knowledge, making it an ally for researchers.

According to a statement, Iris.ai frees up 75 per cent of a researcher’s time by doing specialised, multidisciplinary field analysis with accuracy exceeding that of a human. Its algorithms for text similarity, tabular data extraction, entity disambiguation and linking, and learning domain-specific entity representations are among the “best” in the world.

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To enable people to utilise it, learn from it, and provide feedback to the system, its machine creates a knowledge graph that includes all items and their linkages. Applying these features to scientific and technical text is a complicated challenge few others can achieve.

Co-founder Anita Schjøll Abildgaard explains, “When Iris.ai was founded in 2015, few people had heard of language models. Since then, the AI ecosystem has grown exponentially, and the concept of language models is common knowledge. However, the current generation of large language models – including ChatGPT – doesn’t work for science today. They hallucinate, generate mistruths, and misunderstand scientific text due to a lack of domain-specific knowledge.”

“What we’re doing differently is we are working on factuality validation, and injection of externally validated knowledge – creating a trustworthy system that can be relied upon for analysing scientific research. Our research efforts are considerable, compared to other startups in our field,” adds Abildgaard.

Institutions and businesses, including Fortune 500 steelmaker ArcelorMittal, currently utilise Iris.ai to save the weeks and months spent manually sifting through patents and research.

Capital utilisation 

Iris.ai says it will use the funds to further its primary goal of making scientific research more useful. With the funds, the company will be able to accelerate interdisciplinary research across all fields, map out the enormous quantity of research that is now available, and help researchers in expanding their expertise outside their specialised fields.

“It will allow us to ramp up the development of our technology and achieve our goal of building a complete AI researcher – AI tools and applications which allow humans to make sense of the totality of the world’s scientific knowledge,” says co-founder Anita Schjøll Abildgaard.

The EIC Jury responsible for reviewing Iris.ai’s application says, “A strong AI/ML European player is of utmost importance for the EU, given the evident progress in US and Chinese-driven AI developments and the potential biases that could therefore be implemented in the algorithms. We believe that Iris.ai has huge potential, with the investment enabling them to benefit from ‘the horizontal’ competitive advantages of the product and expand into other market segments in the mid and longer term.”

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Vishal Singh

Vishal Singh is a News Reporter and Social Media Marketing Lead at Silicon Canals. He covers developments in the European startup ecosystem and oversees the publication's social media presence. Before joining Silicon Canals, Vishal gained experience at the Indian digital media outlet Inc42, contributing to its growth with insightful content. Despite being a college dropout, his passion for writing has driven his career in journalism.

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