Israel’s growing AI market pulls in a Canadian unicorn.
Toronto artificial intelligence (AI) startup Ada is bolstering its tech stack with a new machine learning centre in Israel and the appointment of a chief product officer (CPO).
“The motivation to open the machine learning centre in Israel stems from the pool of talent there in conversational AI and in machine learning.”
– Yochai Konig, Ada’s VP of machine learning
This week, Ada announced the opening of its office in Israel, where it will be hiring machine learning, engineering, and product teams to continue to develop the conversational AI systems that power its automated brand interaction platform.
Israel’s growing AI market is what attracted Ada to make inroads into the country, according to the startup. Research firm Tracxn estimates that there are currently 1,100 startups in Israel that use AI as a core component of their offering.
Last year, six Israel-based companies were featured in CB Insights’ annual AI 100 list, which places it in line with Canada — also globally known for its AI space —as CB Insights named five Canadian startups in its 2021 roster. In 2022, four startups from Israel made the lineup, compared to Canada’s five.
Oxford Insights’ 2021 index for global government AI readiness reported Israel ranked second among the startups from the Middle East and North African regions, following the United Arab Emirates. On a global scale, Israel stands at eighth place in the Technology Sector pillar, one of Oxford’s hypotheses that define government AI readiness, and focuses on the country’s innovation capacity and a good flow of R&D spending.
One of the most notable Israeli-founded companies is navigation software Waze, which was acquired by Google in 2013 for $1.1 billion.
“The motivation to open the machine learning centre in Israel stems from the pool of talent there in conversational AI and in machine learning in general,” said Yochai Konig, Ada’s vice president of machine learning.
Konig also cited Israeli companies such as Gong, LivePerson, Nice, Verint, and Amdocs as the key players in the country’s AI space, in addition to Google and Meta that have established R&D centres in Israel.
Founded in 2016, Ada offers an AI-enabled chatbot designed to allow customer support teams to provide automated responses to inbound customer requests and questions.
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Ada also recently tapped Montréal-based Smooch.io’s Mike Gozzo to lead its product teams as CPO. While at Smooch, Gozzo held the roles of chief technology officer and head of product.
Smooch was acquired by Zendesk in May 2019, when Gozzo served as senior vice president of product. In 2011, he founded his first venture Appifier, which was later sold in 2013. In 2012, the Claudine and Stephen Bronfman Foundation named Gozzo as one of Québec’s top 25 emerging entrepreneurs.
At his new role at Ada, Gozzo will be reporting to Ada’s CEO and co-founder Mike Murchison as Gozzo oversees all of the company’s product and design developments.
Ada’s new machine learning centre and CPO marks the company’s latest expansion efforts after achieving unicorn status last year with its $130 million Series C round. The startup also previously raised $63.7 million CAD in Series B funding, a $19 million Series A round, and $2.5 million in seed financing.
Featured image from Taylor Brandon via Unsplash.