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The MENA-focused AI solutions startup Kanari AI has successfully raised $475K in its latest funding round. The Pre-Seed funding included the participation of prominent Tech and Early-Stage investors Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) and Alchemist Accelerator.
Founded in 2020, Kanari AI provides dialectal speech technology solutions, with an initial focus on Dialectal Arabic. Their speech recognition solutions are currently being used for transcription, captioning, subtitling, analytics, media monitoring, accessibility, and security purposes.
This Pre-Seed funding round comes as a refresher for the Early-Stage funding dynamic in MENA after observing a slump in the number of transactions sized below $500K. As recorded in our MENA H1 2021 Venture Investment Report, rounds sized below $500K have witnessed a consecutive dip in the share of total transactions from 71% in FY 2017 to only 41% in H1 2021. This could be attributed to the dip in accelerated deals in MENA over the first half of the year or could be driven by a capital allocation in later-stage deals, where funding rounds by Kitopi and LyveGlobal inflated overall funding in Food & Beverage and Delivery & Logistics industries.
The experienced team of global professionals consisting of Ryan Carmichael (CEO), Giri Nagaraja (CTO), and Dr. Ahmed Ali (Chief Scientist), mapped out the gaps and the opportunities for speech and voice technologies in MENA. Through their integrated solutions, Kanari AI addresses four main pain points of speech technologies in the Arab world: Poor accuracy, deployment concerns, lack of customization, and complicated integration. CEO and Co-Founder Ryan Carmichael commented “How many people in the region still cannot be understood by technology? Too many. One of our biggest advantages is our AI team. They are leaders in speech recognition and pioneering research in dialectal Arabic. The opportunity for speech technology is everywhere, and we are just getting started!”
The Qatar-based accelerator and incubator QSTP is positioned as a strategic investor, especially with an extensive portfolio in investing in MENA-focused and Tech solution-driven startups including Qatar-based IoT startup Subol and E-learning platform Qertas. Their recent funding will help Kanari AI onboard new clients and expand its offering further. Dr. Danny Ramadan, Investment Director at QSTP concluded “The combination of an experienced team, pioneering technology, and a market of over 400M Arabic speakers, was compelling enough for us to back Kanari AI. Kanari AI has shown the potential of AI to transform the way in which we protect and promote cultural heritage, in this case through Arabic language technologies. We have confidence in Kanari AI’s potential to become the leader in Arabic speech recognition and advance the adoption of speech technology in the region.”
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