Artificial Intelligence Summit to Showcase New York City as Growing Hub for AI Activity

AI NexusLab at NYU Tandon and ff Venture Capital convene top minds in technology development to discuss cutting-edge advances

The Future Labs at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering and ff Venture Capital (ffVC), a leading early-stage technology venture capital firm based in New York City, today will convene top artificial intelligence (AI) experts and entrepreneurs at the Future Labs AI Summit to discuss how artificial intelligence is impacting all facets of life. Attendees will learn how academia, corporations, and emerging technology startups are harnessing AI to rethink robotics, communication and chatbots, healthcare, financial technology, and more.

The Future Labs AI Summit will cover topics including investing in AI, building an AI company, how enterprise companies approach AI problems, industry hype, and an AI market report by Future Labs’ graduate CB Insights. Featured speakers include Yann LeCun, NYU professor and director of AI research at Facebook; Paul Horn, NYU senior vice provost for research; Riva-Melissa Tez, managing partner at Permutation Ventures; Anand Sanwal, founder and CEO of CB Insights; and Ruchir Puri, chief architect at IBM Watson, and others.

The AI Nexus Lab — an accelerator-type program for AI — marks the first cooperation of its kind between a university and a venture fund in the United States. At the summit, its entrepreneurs will demonstrate their products and introduce their companies — the latest example of New York City quickly becoming an AI hub. The AI NexusLab helps early-stage AI companies develop their ventures through a four-month program providing technical support, venture development, and pilot partnerships for each of the five companies in the program.

"We join ffVC in congratulating the AI NexusLab companies on their early success,” said NYU Tandon Dean Katepalli R. Sreenivasan. “Their accomplishments during this pilot helped cement the NexusLab as an innovative capacity-building hub for AI in New York and beyond. I would also like to acknowledge the many contributions of John Frankel and his team at ffVC in launching this novel program — one we hope will serve as a model for our Future Labs as it builds more private-sector partnerships. The collaboration between these new companies and researchers throughout New York University has benefited all involved.”

“We're thrilled to announce the first cohort of the AI NexusLab: amazing companies using artificial intelligence to solve diverse and identifiable problems in each of their respective fields,” stated ffVC Founding Partner John Frankel. “Each company’s growth over the course of the program has been extremely encouraging. AI is now beginning to have a profound impact on enterprise productivity, and we feel that these companies — and the teams behind them — represent some of the best and brightest emerging players.”

The five early-stage AI startups represent leading sectors of the New York City economy, including robotics, marketing, health care, financial technology, and enterprise support. The startups received dedicated space at the Data Future Lab — the Future Labs’ Manhattan incubator for AI, machine learning, natural language processing, and data for industry startups — for the four-month program. ffVC invested $100,000 in each company, providing working capital for the startups and supporting AI NexusLab services, including curated access to talent, partners, customers, AI experts from NYU and the NYU ecosystem, computing power, and a community of AI companies and graduates in the Data Future Lab, in addition to guidance from ffVC.

Applications for the next AI NexusLab cohort are open until May 3.

AI is among the fastest-growing sectors, with investment in AI startups growing to a record $5 billion across 550 deals, according to CB Insights. With applications in self-driving cars, marketing, robotics, defense, human relations, and a vast range of software that performs analysis, prediction, and personal digital assistance, AI revenue is widely expected to skyrocket. Meanwhile, university graduates with AI experience are in high demand and research opportunities are on an upward trajectory.

“One of our goals with the inaugural AI program was to separate real AI companies from the hype. Unlike web and mobile startups, AI companies require deep technical knowledge to build and scale,” said Steven Kuyan, managing director at the Future Labs at NYU Tandon. “Each company went through an intense four months of evolving their products to meet the expectations of their pilot customers. They benefited from a uniquely tailored program specific to AI companies, and we’re excited to see them grow into successful ventures contributing to making New York City a thriving hub for artificial intelligence startups.” 

The initial AI NexusLab cohort is:

Alpha Vertex – This data science and machine learning company is building the next generation of AI-powered technologies that work with humans to support investments around the world. Its solutions autonomously monitor, classify, and link large volumes of data across global financial markets. The company’s products also offer advanced analytical capabilities to the investment community to predict financial outcomes and identify trends before they become obvious. – Its artificially intelligent medical records platform helps healthcare providers parse and process billings, claims, and medical images. The computer-assisted coding platform saves providers time and can catch mistakes. It can save and even help make money for hospitals.

Cambrian Intelligence – The London-based startup makes robots more intelligent by building a distributed platform that quickly teaches robots via teleoperation, demonstration, and scripting. The main skills are perception, manipulation, and teleoperation, which become building blocks to develop more complex skills. This universal robot operating system solves a big pain point in the robotics industry.

HelloVera – Its AI-powered, natural language-understanding engine for customer service requests can respond in different channels such as email, chat, and social media. HelloVera was co-founded by Dr. James Fan, who led the AI research team for the IBM Watson project that beat the top Jeopardy! champions, and Dr. Liangliang Cao, winner of the prestigious ImageNet computer vision challenge and an adjunct professor at Columbia University.

Klustera – The Mexico City-based startup leverages sensor technologies and machine learning to automate customer intelligence and retention. It uses anonymous smartphone Wi-Fi signals and computer vision (CCTV feeds) to transform human behavior inside physical spaces such as airports and shopping malls into data and insights, thereby helping Klustera customers understand and connect with their brick-and-mortar consumers just as they would do with e-commerce ones.

The AI NexusLab merges ffVC’s expertise in helping to build early-stage technology companies with lessons taken from the highly successful Future Labs at NYU Tandon, which boasts a survival rate of nearly 90 percent for companies that graduate from its program. This stands in sharp contrast to the typical failure rate of 80 percent for startup companies in general.

About the Future Labs at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering
NYU Tandon created one of the first technology incubators in New York City in 2009 with support from the NYC Economic Development Corporation and the first cleantech incubator in New York City, funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). Today, the Future Labs at NYU Tandon support a wide variety of entrepreneurial outreach programs in addition to more than 40 startup companies in three locations: a data-focused incubator on SoHo’s Varick Street, another in the DUMBO section of Brooklyn focused on digital technology, and a third in Downtown Brooklyn’s MetroTech Center with a focus on clean-energy technology. To date, 68 companies have graduated from the program, 13 through acquisition, with such notable portfolio companies as CB insights, Clarifai, Bounce Exchange, Honest Buildings, and United Wind. For more information visit

About the NYU Tandon School of Engineering
The NYU Tandon School of Engineering dates to 1854, the founding date for both the New York University School of Civil Engineering and Architecture and the Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute (widely known as Brooklyn Poly). A January 2014 merger created a comprehensive school of education and research in engineering and applied sciences, rooted in a tradition of invention and entrepreneurship and dedicated to furthering technology in service to society. In addition to its main location in Brooklyn, NYU Tandon collaborates with other schools within NYU, the country’s largest private research university, and is closely connected to engineering programs at NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai. It operates Future Labs focused on start-up businesses in downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn and an award-winning online graduate program. For more information, visit

About ff Venture Capital
ff Venture Capital (ffVC) is the most engaged early-stage venture capital firm in New York City. ffVC invests in some of the strongest growth areas to date, including cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, machine learning, drones, enterprise cloud software, and crowdfunding, and identifies and invests in technology and technology-enabled companies at their inception — across geographies and emerging industries. With five partners and an acceleration team of 20-plus investment and operations professionals, ffVC actively participates with founders to develop products, target markets, and accelerate growth. Since 2008, ffVC has invested in over 90 companies and has helped to create companies with aggregate market value exceeding $4 billion. For more information, visit