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12 leading Israeli AI startups to watch

With a population steeped in technical knowhow and entrepreneurship, Israel has gained the reputation as “the startup nation”. Here are leading Israeli AI startups pushing the boundaries of what the technology can do in a variety of fields, from security to analytics.

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When the coronavirus wave began to wash across the global economy, Israeli startups initially braced for the fallout with a round of cost cutting and hiring freezes. However, the country’s tech innovation industry has proven surprisingly resilient, and some even predict a record year in venture capital investment.  

Regardless of the year-end expectations, Israeli artificial intelligence ventures —  considered one of the main areas of the country’s tech expertise—  continue to attract robust investment. In the first half of the 2020, AI ventures attracted US$1.4 billion in venture investment, little changed from $1.5 billion in the same period the previous year, according to the IVC-ZAG Israeli High-Tech Report.

 The local ecosystem is considered one of world's leaders, second only to China and the U.S. The AI knowhow is driving some 400 startups making applications ranging from cybersecurity to medical diagnostics and enterprise business intelligence software.

That reputation has prompted some multibillion dollar acquisitions of Israeli companies, such as Intel's purchase of three-year old Habana Networks for $2 billion in late 2019. According to a report by the IVC Research center, Israeli artificial intelligence startups raised $3.7 billion in 2019, more than double the figure for 2017.

Despite that success, Israeli tech leaders are sounding the alarm that the country might actually lose its place at the forefront for lack of a guiding vision. In 2019, a report by the government's Innovation Authority urged authorities to adopt a national strategy including boosting the country's data science engineers, supercomputing infrastructure, and allocating more public money to R&D.

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