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UK-Romanian startup Neurolabs grabs $3.5M to shatter barriers in computer vision use in retail

The Neurolabs team, press release
Image credit: Press release
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•    Neurolabs, the startup developing an out-of-the-box solution for synthetic computer vision that targets non-technical companies, announced raising a $3.5M million seed round.

•    For lead investor LAUNCHub Ventures, a Southeastern Europe specialist fund, this was the second investment in the Romanian market this year (and the fifth in the region). The round was joined by Techstart, Lunar Ventures, and 7percent Ventures.

•    With the new capital, the team plans to scale operations and expand its offering into various consumer packaged goods use cases.

 

Artificial intelligence is transforming the world, one industry at a time. Yet while some industries such as healthcare have pioneered the use of AI to optimize data analytics and real-time decision making, others have lagged behind. Physical retail has only recently accelerated the deployment of AI and machine learning solutions, with plenty of opportunities remaining ahead. In fact, global AI in retail is expected to jump from $4.84 billion in 2021 to $31.18 billion in 2028. 

One type of AI deep learning in retail that is gaining traction is computer vision. Retailers can use the ability of machines to “see”, recognize, and interpret visual data to improve the customer experience, demand forecasting, inventory management, and more.

Designing effective data-driven models depends on the quality of data. Using real world data, however, comes with lots of limitations, from high costs, to privacy issues, as well as lack of accuracy due to inherent biases and unstructured values. 

This is where synthetic data – generated by artificial intelligence – can help. With synthetic data, developers get more flexibility, scalability, and speed. The superiority of synthetic data and its potential did not go unnoticed by investors. Elsewhere in CEE, Austria-based synthetic data generator MOSTLY AI recently raised a $25 million Series B, according to Crunchbase. Synthetically generated data is expected to take over real life data by 2030, according to Gartner.

“It’s obvious that synthetic data is the most efficient way to train your algorithms and quickly develop computer vision applications,” says Stan Sirakov, General Partner at LAUNCHub Ventures. “The Neurolabs team has proven a strong edge in object detection in different industry applications.”

Democratizing access to AI beyond the tech elite

The process by which synthetic data is generated and translated into working computer vision algorithms is not as easy as it sounds, and it has taken the team more than two years to perfect the solution, says CEO and co-founder Raul Pop. It requires very precise 3D-modeling of everyday physical objects like milk cartons and cereal boxes, including anticipation of changes in packaging and design.

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Compared to industry incumbents such as Nvidia and Unity, Neurolabs addresses non-technical companies and citizens by developing an out-of-the-box solution that can make implementing computer vision as easy and fast as building a website.

Founded in 2018 by Romanian entrepreneurs Paul Pop (CEO), Remus Pop (CRO), and Patric Fulop (CTO), the company is based in Edinburgh, UK, with offices in London and Cluj, Romania. Neurolabs is used by retailers such as French discounter Auchan. 

‘While the Teslas and Googles of this world can pour into their AI operations their unmatched financial and human resources to develop next-stage consumer products like self-driving cars, there are a plethora of non-tech industries that are ripe for the latest automation technologies but struggle with adoption. With an end-to-end solution so easy to implement, we see it as a way to democratize Computer Vision,” Stan Sirakov from LAUNCHub Ventures explains.

Developing virtual twins of real-world products at scale opens up opportunities for applying synthetic computer vision at each stage of the consumer packaged goods lifecycle, from manufacturing and distribution, to e-commerce, in-store, and even recycling.

“We are amassing the largest 3D product repository in retail, aiming to reach over 100,000 products this year. The sky’s the limit: a streamlined process of adding any existing product to our database in minutes is in place,” Raul Pop says.
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Antoanela is an Innovation Reporter at The Recursive with a knack for sustainability and environment protection. She is on a mission to communicate and celebrate innovative ideas and solutions that improve our ability to thrive together on this planet.
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