UK-based Synthetic Computer Vision startup Neurolabs aims to democratise computer vision by packing it into a readily available, out-of-the-box solution for companies that do not belong to the tech elite, who lack access to data and struggle with budgets.
Computer Vision (machines that teach themselves to see and recognise everyday objects) companies have made waves with some well-funded series A and series B rounds. Early rounds of $50M were a rare sight in the space - although investors are excited to fund anything with Artificial Intelligence, the hand that could reliably and efficiently feed AI the quality visual data that it requires has been largely overlooked until recently.
Fear of change and complacency has been comfortably attributed to old industries like physical retail for not being decisive enough to jump on AI automation. But it’s not even half of the story. In fact, global Artificial Intelligence in retail is expected to soar from last year’s $4.84 billion to $31.18 billion in 2028. There are other barriers to overcome.
Synthetic Data’s superiority over real-life data in terms of accuracy, speed, cost, and legal compliance has been well established. Synthetically generated data will completely overtake real-life data by 2030, according to Gartner. But unstructured visual data for AI processes in retail needs very precise and anticipating 3D-modeling of everyday physical objects like milk cartons and cereal boxes. For a machine to simply recognise an object on the shelf is not enough. To anticipate and reproduce real-life changes in packaging and design is the real feat for Synthetic Computer Vision championed by Neurolabs.
“Generating synthetic data doesn’t automatically translate into working Computer Vision algorithms. It’s a learning process in itself and we have been perfecting it for more than 2 years now.” affirms CEO and Founder Paul Pop.
Then there’s the talent shortage: while data is rapidly being commoditised, businesses in traditional industries have been struggling to execute on automation initiatives due to the scarcity of Computer Vision engineers.
To the rescue comes Neurolabs’ out-of-the-box solution that enables software engineers and citizen developers to build computer vision solutions as easily as building a website.
Unlike the industry incumbents like Nvidia and Unity, the startup wagers on no-code and low-code implementation.
The technology reduces Computer Vision model development costs, and time to deployment to literal days instead of months.
With such a breakthrough in accessibility, is it correct to imagine every single physical product on the shelf anywhere in the world being fully digitised?
“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,” continues Pop.
Building virtual twins of real-world products on a mass scale unlocks the potential for Synthetic Computer Vision to be applied at each stage of the consumer packaged goods lifecycle, from manufacturing and distribution, to in-store, e-commerce, and recycling.
Based in Edinburgh, UK, with offices in London & Cluj, Romania, the Synthetic Computer Vision company has made big strides in the last 18 months, landing the French discounter Auchan as a client, with other big brands in the pipeline.
Led by Southeastern Europe specialist fund LAUNCHub Ventures, the $3.5 million seed round attracted Berlin’s Lunar Ventures, Techstart and London’s 7% Ventures as co-investors.
“It’s obvious that synthetic data is the most efficient way to train your algorithms and quickly develop computer vision applications,” said Stan Sirakov, General Partner at LAUNCHub Ventures in a statement following the funding round. “The Neurolabs team has proven a strong edge in object detection in different industry applications.”
‘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,'' added Sirakov. “With an end-to-end solution so easy to implement, we see it as a way to democratise Computer Vision.”
Neurolabs plans to use the new capital to scale operations and expand its offering into several consumer packaged goods use cases.
LAUNCHub Ventures is a leading early-stage venture capital fund, investing in technology startups in the Seed and Series A funding stages. We invest in Central and Southeastern Europe (SEE & CEE), and in companies built by ambitious founders from that region who are based in the leading startup hubs such as London, San Francisco, and beyond. For more information, please visit www.launchub.com.
About Lunar Ventures
Investing in early stage European DeepTech Software. We are technical investors partnering with technical founders who are building at the intersection of DeepTech and software. Our mission is to help you turn your sci-fi ideas into working products. For more information, please visit www.lunar.vc
About Techstart Ventures
Techstart Ventures is a leading investor of seed capital across Scotland and Northern Ireland and recently won ‘Investor of the Year’ at Turing Fest’s 2019 Scottish Tech Startup Awards. Techstart Ventures LLP manages the Scottish Growth Scheme – Techstart Ventures Equity Finance LP Fund - which has been financed by support from the Scottish Government and the European Regional Development Fund from the 2014-20 European Structural Funds Programme. For more information, please visit www.techstart.vc
7percent Ventures invests in early stage startups run by founders with moonshot ambitions. All partners are ex-founders turned investors. Past investments include OculusVR (sold to Facebook), Blue Vision Labs (Lyft) and Magic Pony Technologies (Twitter). 7percent believes the founder is their customer, offering advice from first hand experience and support from a curated network of over 150 advisor investors. For more information, please visit www.7pc.vc
Retailers worldwide lose a mind-blowing $634 Billion annually due to the cost of poor inventory management with 5% of all sales lost due to Out-Of-Stocks alone.
Neurolabs helps optimise in-store retail execution for supermarkets and CPG brands using a powerful combination of Computer Vision and Synthetic Data, called Synthetic Computer Vision, improving customer experience and increasing revenue.