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Emerging Tech Research: Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning

Q1 2021

Emerging Tech Research: Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning

May 21, 2021

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Data-driven enterprise operations push AI & ML adoption across industries

The recent IPO of social media giant Kuaishou demonstrates that, for some emerging large companies, AI is their core product. Global VC funding supports this software architecture with rapidly increasing deal sizes across segments including horizontal platforms, vertical applications, autonomous machines, and semiconductors. End-user spending is also poised to escalate in 2021, especially given the improving performance of AI for language processing tasks.
Our Q1 update of AI & ML Emerging Tech Research includes updated market size estimates and spotlights on private companies, including Databricks, DataRobot, and Samsara. The report also tracks major industry trends—covering developments in data preparation, computational biology, and manufacturing AI.

Key takeaways
  • Driven by healthcare, autonomous vehicles, and AI core software each receiving over $2 billion in invested capital, Q1’s AI VC funding set its second consecutive quarterly record, with more than $20 billion invested across 995 deals.
  • Buoyed by consumer AI giant Kuaishou’s $55.5 billion IPO valuation, VC exit flow broke out in China in Q1—resulting in a $74.1 billion exit value in Q1 alone, which exceeds 2020’s total.
  • Startups are achieving high valuation growth in AI core, healthcare AI, and industrial AI.