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7 Generative AI Startups From CEE to Watch for in 2023

While most of this year’s hype around the industry revolves around AI chatbots such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Google’s Bard and the alike, during the past few years Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) region has also proven to be a fertile ground for innovative generative AI startups and companies.
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While most of this year’s hype around the industry revolves around AI chatbots such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Google’s Bard and the alike, during the past few years Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) region has also proven to be a fertile ground for innovative generative AI startups and companies.

From generating realistic sounds and videos to writing stories, these startups and companies’ solutions have been showcasing the vast potential of generative AI to disrupt various industries.

In this article we explore some of the notable generative AI startups and companies in the CEE region driving innovation in the industry.

Name: Grammarly

Country: Ukraine/US

What they do: A leader in the world of online writing assistants and the first Ukrainian unicorn, Grammarly uses a combination of technological approaches and human expertise to offer communication support to individuals and enterprises.

The unicorn was founded in 2009 by Ukrainian entrepreneurs Max Lytvyn, Alex Shevchenko, and Dmytro Lider with the goal of helping people communicate more effectively.

Focusing first on supporting students’ grammar and spelling through a subscription-based product, the founders soon recognized the potential of how Grammarly could help in all circumstances — from professional writing to everyday correspondence.

Since then, the company has grown the capabilities of their writing assistance to go way beyond grammar and spelling to analyze complex aspects of language and communication, using advanced machine learning to break new ground in natural language processing that analyzes written sentences to understand context and tone.

Name: PolyAI

Country: Serbia/UK

What they do: PolyAI builds enterprise voice assistants that carry on natural conversations with customers to solve their problems.

The startup was born in the same University of Cambridge lab that pioneered speech recognition. PolyAI was founded in 2017 by Nikola Mrksic, Tsung-Hsien Wen and Pei-Hao Su, who combined their experiences in AI, deep learning, and natural language understanding.

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The company says that “its assistants understand customers, regardless of what they say or how they say it”, cut down on wait times and free up live staff to focus on calls requiring empathy and judgment.

PolyAI’s products have been used in the banking, hospitality, insurance, retail, and telecommunications industries. In September 2022 the company raised $40M in Series B round, and has a valuation at $300M.

Name: Creative Fabrica

Country: Romania/The Netherlands

What they do: Creative Fabrica is a social platform for crafters and designers. Founded in 2016, the startup has developed an e-commerce platform which provides an all-in-one management with graphics targeting designers so that they can save time and focus on creating.

Having a design background, Creative Fabrica’s founders Anca Stefan and Roemie Hillenaar created the startup to improve and change the way people consume digital assets, as a combination of “love for art and a passion for handmade crafts and fonts.”

So far, Creative Fabrica has more than 50 thousand designers on board. Last month the company announced that it had raised $61M in a growth round by combining venture and debt funding, and that it will now aim to further build out the platform’s designer network and expansion of its creative generative AI toolset.

Name: Reface

Country: Ukraine

What they do: Reface is an AI/ML startup shifting from a face-swapping app to a social platform for personalized content creation where users can swap faces in videos, GIFs and memes.

The Ukrainian AI startup was founded in 2020 by Roman Mogylnyi, Oles Petriv, Yaroslav Boyko, Denys Dmytrenko, Kyrylo Syhyda, Dima Shvets and Ivan Altsybeiev, with most of them working on ML projects since 2011.

Within just one year, the app reached 127 million installs and managed to raise $5.5M from a16z, with celebrities including Elon Musk, Justin Bieber, Snoop Dogg, and Miley Cyrus sharing “refaced” videos, the company says. As of March 2022, the Reface app has been installed 200 million times, and users have generated more than 4 billion pieces of synthetic media.

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Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Reface has also launched a massive information campaign and added in-app messages to the users from all over the world to support Ukraine, and every video made with the app has a watermark with #standwithukraine and the Ukrainian flag.

Name: Digital First

Country: Poland

What they do: Digital First AI is a personal growth assistant that delivers personalized marketing strategy within minutes and helps its users to execute it using AI.

Founded in 2021 by Polish entrepreneurs Grzegorz Gracz, Rafał Tromczyński, and Michal Tokarski, the Digital First platform employs the AI solution that analyzes any company’s information and recommends successful marketing activities.

Based on information about the business, Digital First then recommends a list of marketing activities that will allow companies to scale revenues.

Last year, the startup raised $1.1M in pre-seed funding for itsglobal expansion, and is currently used by over 4,000 user companies and over 2,000 clients from 60 countries.

Name: Respeecher

Country: Ukraine

What they do: Respeecher is a Ukrainian startup that applies deep learning to do speech processing for a spectrum of B2B markets. The company’s first product allows users to speak with the voice of someone else (for example a famous person – all that is needed to train the system is samples of your voice and the target voice).

The startup was founded in 2018 by entrepreneurs Alex Serdiuk, Dmytro Bielievtsov, and Grant Reaber. Three years later it raised $1.5M in funding for its voice transformation and transfer technology aimed at the entertainment industry.

During the last few years, Respeecher has worked on several high-profile movie and TV projects, including the hit TV series The Mandalorian where they recreated the voice of a young Luke Skywalker.

Name: Surfer

Country: Poland

What they do: Surfer is a content Intelligence tool that merges content strategy, creation, and optimization in order to help content teams grow brands, organic traffic, and revenue.

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Founded in 2017 by entrepreneurs Michal and Lucjan Suski, Tomasz Niezgoda, Slawek Czajkowski and Kazik Pietka, the startup aims to make SEO accessible to anyone regardless of geographic location or educational background, as well as to democratize organic traffic with user-friendly, data-backed, on-page search engine optimization.

Fully bootstrapped, last year the Polish company had more than four thousands customers and a revenue over $8M.

Know more disruptive AI startups from the CEE region? Give us a shout at [email protected]


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Bojan is The Recursive’s Western Balkans Editor, covering tech, innovation, and business for more than a decade. He’s currently exploring blockchain, Industry 4.0, AI, and is always open to covering diverse and exciting topics in the Western Balkans countries. His work has been featured in global media outlets such as Foreign Policy, WSJ, ZDNet, and Balkan Insight.