2022 in review
This past year was definitely eventful, in every sense of the word. We have both achieved a lot, and faced some difficult challenges. However, we emerge from that stronger than ever, firmly committed to our journey towards an AI to connect the dots of all of the world’s science. Let’s recap 2022!
- The Russian invasion of Ukraine shook our team – and our markets.
- A Q1 alpha launch of the Researcher Workspace, a 0.5 beta launch in the summer – and the final touches to the full 1.0 which is coming in early 2023.
- The wrap-up of our research project funded partially by a grant from the Research Council of Norway, with several academic publications in 2022.
- A very solid start to 2022 with a lot of new sales closed, then a downturn slowing it down in the spring and summer, before it finally picked back up again in late fall.
- Ending the year on a great note with being the recipients of the EIC Accelerator Grant and Blended finance!
The Russian invasion of Ukraine
The Russian invasion has definitely had a big and direct impact on us. First and most important, we had to make sure our beloved team members in Ukraine were as safe as they could be, with both domestic and international relocation. This is of course an ongoing effort, and we’re following the development of the war closely to do what we can to keep everyone safe.
Product development – the Researcher Workspace
However, once the team was safe we kept building, and in March 2022 we officially released the very first version of the Researcher Workspace, followed by numerous improvement and feature releases. The tools are constantly improving thanks to solid user feedback, and the 1.0 version is on its way! The Researcher Workspace, started in 2021, is combining all our powerful technologies into a comprehensive platform that helps researchers around the world navigate a constantly evolving field. The longer term undertaking is to streamline the RW and incorporate features that allow researchers to rapidly create their own knowledge base around any problem.
In 2023 the Researcher Workspace will be open to individuals and our Premium users of Explore & Focus tools will be automatically migrated, so stay tuned for more updates!
Research – staying on the forefront of NLP
In the meantime, we have also been very active in the research area, finalizing a two year research project funded by the Research Council of Norway. 2022 was the most successful for this department and we published the most research papers since 2017! The new version of the Summarization tool was released. Additionally, we now have a module to evaluate generated summaries. There is a publication coming on that in 2023, where we address the limitations of current evaluation metrics. There were also improvements to the Extract tool with new models for table data extraction and a successfully trained named entity recognition module. Our machine can now also extract dynamic fields and context fields: Dynamic fields identify and extract all entries and their related properties to a specified class of entity – for example, all ingredients and their concentrations mentioned in a material recipe, without having to specify in advance what ingredients might be found. Context fields extract a chunk of text related to a particular topic of interest – for example, the whole step by step recipe of the material. We also researched and published an approach called latent semantic imputation (LSI), an approach to handle novel or rare words. This is especially useful for clients working in very narrow research fields – and every research field where vocabulary changes a lot. LSI addresses this problem by imputing embeddings for domain-specific words from up-to-date knowledge graphs while otherwise preserving the original word embedding model.
Throughout the year we had a number of excellent research collaborations thanks to the BIA funding and we were able to publish some interesting scientific papers. We presented our findings all across the world – from France to Korea! Iris.ai in partnership with UCL received a grant to support intern students involved in the collaborative projects. 2022 gave us new opportunities and a chance to broaden our research network, which we’re planning to extend in the upcoming year.
January and February 2022 were months with the most leads and closed sales in the company’s history until then, and the strongest sales pipeline. However, the global economic uncertainty following the war also had a direct impact on our results – both on our sales funnels and prospects’ abilities to allocate budget to innovative projects, as well as the global fundraising environment.
Given the lack of sales and fundraising, some restructuring of the team was undertaken towards the end of the year – anyone who has been through this knows it’s not an easy situation to be in.
However, given the market downturn, we have had the opportunity to really take time to fine tune our sales process, learning from past mistakes. We worked closely with existing clients to understand the key values our tools bring, streamlined our inbound and outbound processes, and are now thoroughly equipped to scale up those efforts. And we are very happy to see the year end on the same note as it began – with closing and onboarding several large new clients, and an exciting prospect list for 2023.
EIC Accelerator recipients!
Finally, in mid December – after a massive application and a nerve wrecking interview – we received the news that we are among the 78 recipients (from more than 1000 qualified applicants) of the EIC Accelerator funding! We’re receiving a large grant and equity investment, as a company building technology of strategic value to the European Union. This is the flagship funding mechanism for the European Innovation Council, and historically less than 0.5% of applicants receive the grant. Our jury wrote: “The Company could benefit the EU to accelerate research and make more money from research activities. Furthermore, a strong AI/ML European player is of utmost importance for the EU.”
With that, we would like to thank you all for following us in 2022, and are looking forward to a very exciting 2023!
“In the upcoming year we’ll be scaling up and hiring new people – so come join us on our journey to building the research assistant that research teams need around the world. Our R&D efforts are substantial, continuing to turn our solid research into novel products already loved by our users.“ – Victor Botev, CTO and Co-founder of Iris.ai
“One of our investors told us recently that he believes resilience is the only key to success in a startup. This year has indeed been proof of that for us. Through war and market downturn, we’ve insisted on keeping going – and we are so proud of our team, our users, our clients and ourselves. I am so excited for what 2023 will bring!” – Anita Schjøll Abildgaard, CEO and Co-founder of Iris.ai
“We got here through the collective effort of a large number of people, including past and present team members, investors, funders, clients, users, partners, advisors… We thank them all for putting us on a path to become one of Europe’s leading applied AI players, in our case devoted to the processings of scientific language.” Jacobo Elosua, President and Co-founder of Iris.ai