5 Dutch AI companies transforming finance, healthcare, and agriculture

Landmark government initiatives, proprietary technology and big data analytics are fueling Dutch AI companies' ambitions to transform the way business is done in sectors including finance, healthcare and agriculture.

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AI in the Netherlands is booming: A Techleap.nl 2021 report found that 10% of all registered AI start-ups worldwide are based in the Netherlands. The nation has the highest density of AI start-ups per capita in Europe.

In addition, there are a number of relatively young Dutch AI companies that have been in business for a number of years and while they may no longer be considered start-ups, are still growing rapidly and have ambitions to transform the way business is done in sectors including finance, heathcare and agriculture.

The Dutch government has recently ramped up efforts to encourage AI development. In October 2019, the government launched the Strategic Action Plan for AI (SAPAI), a roadmap aiming to position the country as a global AI powerhouse. A key part of the government’s plan is stimulating AI entrepreneurship by increasing access to venture capital and “innovation credits,” loans up to €10 million (US$11.7 million) that support high-tech and high-risk projects. The initiative is boosted by the Dutch AI Coalition, a public-private partnership created to boost the AI ecosystem with €276 million in its first phase.

As AI enablers like cloud-based infrastructure, increased access to data, and VC funding become more accessible to entrepreneurs, forms of AI such as machine learning and deep learning (a subset of machine learning) are set to become a part of every industry over the next decade.

“I'm already interested to see what the machine learning field will look like in five years," says Tom de Vries, image analysis engineer at live-cell imaging start-up CytoSMART. "There are so many new techniques with different kinds of models that use a computer capable of doing millions upon millions of calculations every second. What was impossible five years ago is achievable now. The technology has become so much stronger."

Here are some fast-growing Dutch AI companies you should know about:


 Year founded: 2014

Funding: €15.5 million

Headquarters: Amsterdam

CEO: Yasir Khokhar

What they do: Connecterra offers an AI-powered tracking platform and proprietary collar sensors for farmers to monitor cattle health and create more sustainable, humane and productive dairy farms. The platform — dubbed Ida — uses AI to analyse raw behavioural data in the cloud to garner insights about cattle health, fertility, and productivity. Ida allows farmers to input a wide array of factors and large volumes of data related to feed, environmental changes, bedding, and veterinary intervention to get custom recommendations that can increase productivity by up to 30%. In addition to increasing efficiency, clients using their farming models have been able to stop using hormones completely and cut the use of antibiotics by half.

Competitors include: Stellapps, Performance Livestock Analytics

Customers: Farms, food companies (Danone), and life science companies (Bayer) in over 14 countries

Why they are a hot AI company to watch: They recently secured €7.8 million in additional Series B funding from agritech investment specialists ADM Capital, impact investment cooperative Pymwymic, and biosecurity group Kersia to accelerate their development.

CytoSMART Technologies

Year founded: 2012

Funding: €5.2 million

Headquarters: Eindhoven

CEO: Joffry Maltha

What they do: CytoSMART helps biologists make discoveries faster and more easily with smart microscopy systems comprising live-cell imaging hardware and cloud-based software for monitoring and analysis. AI-powered imaging algorithms allow labs to process huge data sets more efficiently: “Researchers want to learn more about a certain topic, so we don’t want to keep them busy with things anyone could do, like cell counting," explains Image Analysis Engineer Tom de Vries. "A computer can do it in less than a second and give you the same information, or even better.”

Competitors include: Sonoscan, ChromaVision

Customers: Life scientists, researchers, healthcare companies like Roche, and universities like Cornell and Oxford. CytoSMART's products are currently used in over 1,000 laboratories around the world.

Why they are a hot AI company to watch: CytoSMART is working on a new algorithm using florescent staining to examine the contraction power of myocytes (heart cells) and determine not how fast, but how hard the heart is beating. The team is also developing a device that can scan an entire petri dish: previously, researchers were limited to observing one specific point on a petri dish under a microscope. The microscopic scanning device and accompanying algorithms vastly increase the field of view for researchers and the amount of data available. Last year, CytoSMART expanded with a new subsidiary in the US.


Year founded: 2012

Funding: €3.2 million

Headquarters: Amsterdam

CEO: Sjoerd Leemhuis

What they do: Owlin offers AI-powered news analysis tools and a monitoring platform for financial institutions and professionals. Their proprietary AI and natural language processing algorithms detect unstructured data that is not detected by traditional risk metrics, so customers can efficiently identify emerging risks, discover opportunities in unexplored markets, and get insights about industry and technology trends when developing new products. Natural language processing allows Owlin to analyse over 3 million news sources and detect any important data related to a user's portfolio, such as updates related to legal cases, insolvency, and layoffs.

Competitors include: Quid, DataSift

Customers: Banks (Deutsche Bank and ING), audit and tax firms (KPMG), credit rating agencies (Fitch Ratings), and payment processors (Ayden)

Why they are a hot AI company to watch: Last year, Owlin created a COVID-19 impact monitor to help risk managers visualise the economic impact of the pandemic on their companies, anticipate interruptions in the supply chain, and measure the incidence of layoffs and bankruptcy by sector.


Year founded: 2018

Funding: €2 million

Headquarters: The Hague

CEO: David Buschman

What they do: Finturi uses blockchain and AI to make invoice financing secure, efficient, and less expensive. The start-up helps connects small- and medium-size businesses with financiers to help them secure working capital and manage relationships with debtors. According to Finturi CEO David Buschman, SMEs are a critical part of the Netherlands' economy, making up 72% of all employment opportunities and generally require relatively small amounts of working capital (usually not exceeding €25,000) a few times per year. Businesses can usually get a loan within 24 hours of submitting an invoice. Blockchain makes the process more secure, while Finturi's automation algorithms significantly reduce administrative expenses.

Competitors include: Fellow Finance, Monexo

Customers: Financiers and SMEs

Why they are a hot AI company to watch: Finturi is currently developing a peer-to-peer platform for businesses and their clients. In 2020, Finturi was given an exemption from the Netherlands' Authority of Financial Markets to operate freely in the Dutch market, along with a few other alternative finance providers.


Year founded: 2015

Funding: €12.5 million

Headquarters: Amsterdam

CEO: Mark-Jan Harte

What they do: Aidence offers life-saving software that can detect early-stage lung cancer very quickly and while reducing the risk of misdiagnosis. The use of Aidence's deep learning computer-assisted diagnosis system resulted in 10% better detection sensitivity and 94.2% accuracy. Veye Lung Nodules, a detection software, analyses all images available in a chest CT scan, can measure the precise volume doubling time and growth rate of lung nodules, and creates a 3D visualisation of the lungs within minutes. Veye Reporting helps radiiologists create customisable reports with standardised terminology to help patients and healthcare workers access the information they need faster and more accurately. COO Jeroen van Duffelen proposes that the adoption of early-detection AI clinical tools will not only save patient's lives, but also save hospitals tens of thousands of euros per year in treatment costs.

Competitors include: Intelerad, Novarad

Customers: Hospitals, radiologists, and pharmaceutical professionals

Why they are a hot AI company to watch: Aidence has attracted funding from Rabo Ventures and INKEF Capital, which support top-tier technology and science startups. CEO Mark-Jan Harte expects to successfully complete Series B by the end of 2021, and then plans to launch Veye Lung Nodules across the rest of Europe and the US.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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