Saudi Aramco’s venture capital arm leads $3.4 million fundraising for Egyptian AI startup Intella

by MMC
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Intella, an Egyptian deep technology start-up focus on artificial intelligence has raised $3.4 million in a pre-Series A funding round led by two of Saudi Arabia’s largest venture capital funds.

The startup is looking to expand its operations in the Middle East and North Africa and improve its Arabic text-to-speech service.

Its investment round was led by Khobar-based Hala Ventures and Wa’ed Ventures, the venture capital arm of the world’s largest oil exporting company. Saudi AramcoCairo-based Intella said on Tuesday.

Backers also included Sanabil 500, the start-up accelerator program of Sanabil Investments, which is owned by the Saudi Public Investment Fund, and the Insead Business School angel network.

The investment will help Intella, which aims to bridge the gap between the Arabic-speaking world and advances in AI, improve its product range and “consolidate its leadership in voice technology innovation”, he said .

It will also support Intella’s expansion into Saudi Arabia, where the company established its headquarters in May, allowing it to tap into the kingdom’s growing technology and AI sectors, he said. added.

“Saudi Arabia is quickly becoming a hub of technological advancement. This move fits perfectly with our expansion plans,” said Nour Taher, managing director and co-founder of Intella.

One of the startup’s flagship services is Intella Voice, a multi-dialect Arabic transcriber that converts speech into text.

Intella said the service had passed Arabic audio tests lasting more than 30,000 hours and achieved an accuracy rate of 95.73 percent.

It outperforms industry leaders including Google’s Text-to-Speech, ChatGPT maker OpenAI’s Whisper, Meta Platform’s SeamlessM4T and IBM’s Watson, the company added.

“Our voice technology tailored for Arabic dialects has set new benchmarks in the industry. And now, we are going beyond simple transcription and focusing on audio analysis, including summarization, sentiment analysis, topic extraction and call scoring,” Omar Mansour, co-founder and CTO of Intella, said.

“We are really pushing the boundaries of what AI can do for voice in our region,” Mr Mansour said, as Intella seeks to “ensure the region’s relevance in global technology trends”.

The race for AI advancements has gained significant momentum with the introduction of ChatGPT, the generative AI platform with highly advanced conversational capabilities.

Intella said it is using its DeepTech expertise to meet the growing demand for specialized Arabic voice technology. DeepTech refers to technology focused on providing specialized solutions in advanced sectors, including AI, robotics, blockchain and quantum computing.

Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, is implementing a digital transformation strategy, part of its Vision 2030 program that aims to diversify its economy from oil.

Established in 2013, Wa’ed Ventures is a $500 million venture capital firm that promotes economic diversification and new business growth in Saudi Arabia by investing in high-growth technology start-ups across multiple sectors. It manages a portfolio of more than 60 start-ups.

Other organizations have built large language models for Arabic, one of the most widely spoken languages ​​in the world.

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In August, a large artificial intelligence language model developed in Abu Dhabi for Arabic was unveiled.

Jeta bilingual Arabic-English open source model, was developed by Inception, a unit of Abu Dhabi AI company G42, in partnership with Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence and Cerebras Systems, based in Silicon Valley.

that of Abu Dhabi Technological Innovation Institute also launched its Noor natural language processing model, which combines linguistics, computer science and AI to support machine learning of human language.

Intella is “making significant progress in connecting global advances in AI to the needs of the Arabic-speaking community, and this is exactly the kind of initiative the region needs right now,” said Ali Abussaud, founding managing partner from Hala Ventures.

Updated: October 3, 2023, 1:19 p.m.

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