Calvin Risk closes a $1.5M Pre-Seed round to help companies deploy and manage trustworthy AI

News, Portfolio

13th December 2022

We are happy to announce that Calvin Risk has raised $1.5million Pre-Seed from ourselves and Wingman Ventures. The company was founded as a spin-off from ETH Zurich, one of Europe’s central hubs for AI research, with a mission to unlock the full potential of AI for business by managing a multitude of risks.

Many of the AI algorithms being developed today are not commercially viable. There are a variety of risks inherent in the development and deployment of AI that make it challenging to transition models created in the lab to AI-enabled products that work in the real-world. Algorithms are often “black boxes” (i.e. models that are difficult to interpret) trained on enormous amounts of data; if that data is systematically biased, then the resulting AI will be too. Therefore, AI developers must ensure that no discriminatory relationships have been learned during the training phase of the algorithm that will result in unfair or unjust decisions. Similarly, AI developers must ensure the trained algorithm is up to it’s original mission and draws robust conclusions even if slight environmental variations occur and does not just work in a laboratory setting. Thus, there is an acute need for evaluation metrics, context-specific assessments, and continuous monitoring to safeguard the development of AI and ensure it works as intended.

Calvin Risk Management Platform

The Calvin Risk platform called Calvin is a risk management system centered around a company’s AI inventory (i.e. the sum total of all algorithms developed for commercial use). Companies can quantify the technical, ethical, and regulatory risks of their AI portfolio by completing the platform’s adaptive assessment tasks at each stage in an algorithm’s lifecycle. The result provides an overview and insights into the change in risk levels over time and other important factors, both at the level of individual algorithms and at the portfolio level. The platform also calculates the probability of an adverse incident happening as well as the potential costs of those risks. A wide array of functions – from team leads, to managers, head of functions, and risk teams –benefit from the overview that the Calvin platform provides. This includes the ability to continuously monitor their entire AI efforts across all departments of an organization and automatically report on the status of their AI portfolio. 

Calvin Risk is focusing on three specific industries -insurance, pharmaceuticals, and the tech sector. “An organization profits most from our platform if their AI efforts are fairly mature. An example would be a company that has already developed and deployed some algorithms, but wants to improve its quality and standardization, and professionalize the roll-out process.”, says Julian Riebartsch, CEO of Calvin Risk, “Furthermore, the more ubiquitous AI becomes at larger organizations, the greater the benefit of our product”. Several companies have expressed interest in the “Calvin” risk management platform.

The uncertainty surrounding AI is palpable across industries

Even the most sophisticated organizations are not sure how to effectively evaluate AI algorithms across the many relevant dimensions such as performance, robustness, fairness, and explainability that are key to build trustworthy AI. On top of that, many organizations have not gathered enough experience with AI-based software products to adequately understand the risks of deploying them in the market. At the same time, incidents of systemic AI failures such as Google’s low performing and impractical eye disease identification tool or Microsoft’s famous abusive and racist chatbot have put many on guard.

Increasing trust, acceptance, and understanding the risks will become critical for the adoption of AI across industries, according to Tarek Besold, Head of Strategic AI at DEKRA DIGITAL and advisor at Swiss startup Calvin Risk. “Sustained innovation requires market acceptance of products – understanding risk helps consumers to become emancipated actors in the market, overcoming reservations and accepting new technologies. This then allows further innovation.”, he explains.

Upcoming regulations such as the EU AI law make AI governance and risk management top of mind for corporate decision makers. This will increase demand for products such as Calvin, which can shorten deployment cycles through efficient and trusted assessment processes while making sure a company is compliant with such new regulations.

“Ensuring that the regulatory goals of a humanity-centric AI are harmonized with the need for innovation is a key part of Calvin Risk’s efforts”, Syang Zhou, CTO of Calvin Risk states. “Our platform enables the alignment between safer and higher-quality models, and maintaining the ethical efforts of humanity, while improving process efficiency. The results are trustworthy and effective evaluation processes”. This is the mission Swiss-based startup Calvin Risk set for itself.

“Uncertainty about the risks of deploying AI models has lead enterprises to seriously underinvest in AI, which increases the risk of being disrupted. The Calvin platform is the first universal product that is providing a solution for this problem”, says Andreas Goeldi, partner at btov.

Funds from the financing round will be used to expand the research and development team and validate the risk quantification approach for the insurance, pharmaceutical and high-tech industries.

Tech.eu has the story here.

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