How VC is Solving Today’s Problems with Artificial Intelligence 

With artificial intelligence (AI) rapidly gaining ground, the startup ecosystem is harnessing its potential to tackle pressing national challenges head-on. AI will play a pivotal role in expanding economic opportunities, revitalizing outdated systems, and combating the climate crisis, paving the way for a brighter future. Innovation will be further enhanced in sectors as varied as healthcare, national security, and manufacturing to name a few. 
Let’s take a look at a few venture-backed companies using AI to solve real-world problems today: 

1. EarthOptics

  • Where They’re Based: Arlington, Virginia 
  • What They Do: EarthOptics combines AI-driven analysis with remote sensing to enable farmers to reap the benefits of costly soil testing at a fraction of the cost. 
  • Why It’s Important: Regular soil testing plays a vital role in the modern farming process, allowing farmers to comprehensively unlock the full potential of agricultural yields. 
  • A Little More Context: EarthOptics proprietary sensor technology and data analytics innovation enables all farmers to create real-time data maps – an opportunity that was historically only accessible to the largest players. Through its technology, EarthOptics is building a more efficient, productive, and sustainable agricultural sector for the future.

2. Sortera Alloys 

  • Where They’re Based: Markle, Indiana 
  • What They Do: Sortera Alloys empowers the recycling of high-performance metals through high-speed automated analysis and sorting. 
  • Why It’s Important: While simple metals are often recycled, higher-value alloys must be sorted through an expensive, time-consuming process prior to recycling them. 
  • A Little More Context: With Sortera Alloys’ spectrometer and robotic sorting system, recycling facilities can easily feed all their scrap metal through a single system that sorts the materials into homogenous samples to be melted down and reformed. Sortera’s technology is groundbreaking in advancing the circular economy by making the recycling of various metals more viable. 


  • Where They’re Based: Santa Fe, New Mexico 
  • What They Do: combines computer vision with machine learning algorithms to detect and prevent diabetes-induced vision loss.  
  • Why It’s Important: Diabetes-induced vision-loss (retinopathy) is the leading cause of vision loss in the U.S. and it can be treated if detected early. 
  • A Little More Context: Before, the detection process was costly and uncomfortable. Utilizing computer vision, will help save the vision of tens of thousands of people yearly by making the detection process faster, cheaper, and more effective for the wider population.  

4. Shift5 

  • Where They’re Based: Rosslyn, Virginia  
  • What They Do: Shift5 improves cybersecurity at scale by automating network mapping, monitoring, and incident response, empowering network defenders. 
  • Why It’s Important: As the nation’s security needs intensify, the supply of skilled professionals falls short in meeting the demand. 
  • A Little More Context: Shift5 utilizes AI to revolutionize computer network defense. By automating labor-intensive tasks and even quarantining problematic network components, cybersecurity professionals can now easily detect and address potential issues before they spread throughout the network. 

5. Pivot Bio

  • Where They’re Based: Berkeley, CA
  • What They Do: Pivot Bio fertilizer helps farmers grow crops that capture and metabolize nitrogen from the atmosphere.
  • Why It’s Important: Reducing the need for synthetic nitrogen fertilizers promotes cost-effective and sustainable farming, improving health and creating a cleaner future.
  • A Little More Context: Pivot Bio develops microbial nitrogen fertilizers, empowering farmers to reduce costs, enhance crop yields, and contribute to environmental conservation.
By harnessing AI, these examples have offloaded tedious and time-consuming tasks to algorithms, liberating individuals to focus on their core strengths: creative analysis and strategic problem-solving. This paradigm shift holds immense potential for boosting productivity for entire U.S. economy. 

Discover the AI revolution: Explore more startups making an impact


Avalo is nature’s innovation workshop. Through our interpretable AI-based platform, we advance natural crop evolution. Their mission is to harness evolution in the fight against climate change, guaranteeing humanity’s future food supply. Their AI-based platform helps identify the biological origin of traits critical to the future of agriculture, and streamlines the most time consuming and expensive parts of crop development.


Developer of autonomous beehives intended to increase yield, reduce colony loss and eliminate the use of chemical pesticides. The company’s beehives mainly use robotics and artificial intelligence to automate all beekeeping activities, enabling beekeepers to remotely control the colony to make hives friendly without human intervention.


Giving computers a sense of smell to improve the health & wellbeing of human life. Vision and hearing have been digitized — but not smell — our oldest and deepest sense. Osmo is bringing an unprecedented combination of hardware, software, data and capital to this historic challenge.


Developer of a deep learning automation platform designed to automate image recognition and text understanding. The company’s platform develops artificial intelligence for accident and disaster recovery by receiving images and videos, performing analyses and then sharing the return results to any connected device within a short span of time, enabling organizations to unlock disruptive applications and provide accuracy on image recognition tasks.


Retrocausal’s intelligence augmentation systems improve the quality and efficiency of manufacturing processes. Their solutions enable significantly higher productivity for engineers and operators with fewer mistakes; critical components to implementing flexible, robust, and cost effective manufacturing operations in the US and beyond.


We partner with primary care practices to provide permanent, on-site diagnostic imaging capabilities and best-in-class interpretations that improve outcomes. Imagen’s diagnostics as a service platform is customized to meet the unique needs of your practice so you can deliver exceptional patient experiences, improved care quality, and positive financial outcomes.


EnsoData uses artificial intelligence to automate waveform analysis and spotlight disease processes as they manifest over different timescales; whether looking for heart rhythm irregularities over seconds, glycemic index dynamics over minutes, sleep disordered breathing patterns over hours, or indicators to preempt heart decompensation over days.

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Shiloh Tillemann-Dick serves as the Research Director at NVCA. His work focuses on the development of qualitative and quantitative analytical products which provide the rest of the team with the material they need to tell NVCA’s story.