DISCOVER SENSIFAI, ONE OF EUROPE’S TOP START-UPS!
Mohamed Hasan Bahari is behind the creation of Sensifai, which was selected as one of Europe’s top 50 start-ups in 2017. It uses artificial intelligence for video recognition. We met up with Mohamed to ask him about it.
MOHAMAD HASAN BAHARI
I am the CEO and co-founder of Sensifai (selected as Europe's top 50 start-ups in 2017), which develops a software that enables computers to understand video contents. I also serve as an expert at the European Commission. I was a Marie-Curie fellow and received my Ph.D in engineering from KU Leuven in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2014. I was a postdoctoral research scientist at KU Leuven between 2014 and 2016. I have also been involved in several international projects on audio and image processing, such as Handicaps and BBfor2, as well as my research on automatic speaker characterisation which was awarded by the International Speech Communication Association (ISCA) at INTERSPEECH 2012. I have also served as a technical committee member at several conferences, and as a reviewer for several top journals in the field. I was recognised as one of the top 10 Belgian innovators by MIT Technology Review in 2017.
Why is it important for AI to understand video?
The volume of videos is skyrocketing due to recent technological advances in recording. To use videos effectively and make them searchable, there is a growing demand for intelligent software that can automatically understand the content of a video. Although this is trivial for humans, empowering computers to recognise video semantic concepts is very challenging. Sensifai developed a cutting-edge audio-visual deep-learning technology trained on millions of videos to recognise audio and video content and tag them accurately.
What has been Sensifai’s main achievement so far?
Sensifai has developed a disruptive technology that makes videos searchable. This technology can revolutionise assistive technologies, increase our security, and expedite surfing video archives.
For developing video recognition system, Sensifai has been recognised as one of the top 50 EU companies by the European Parliament. It was also awarded by the International Universities Innovation Alliance. Sensifai is also a proud graduate of TECHSTARS.
What makes Sensifai so innovative?
Google makes texts searchable. However, 80% of total internet traffic is video and videos are not searchable unless they are tagged properly shot-by-shot. Sensifai offers a comprehensive commercial video tagging API that can be used to tag videos and pictures (i.e. for objects, scenes, action, sport, celebrity, music, mood, keyword, etc). Our technology is now live, and everyone can test its accuracy and performance.
How did you form your team?
Sensifai was co-founded by myself, Ali Diba and Prof. Van Gool. We were all working at KU Leuven centre for processing speech and images. We decided to create Sensifai in 2015 and we officially registered the company in 2016. I really feel privileged to have met and worked with Ali and Luc. They are both brilliant, experienced and inspiring.
Could you tell us about your transition from academia to self-employment?
Fortunately, I experienced a smooth transition from academia to the industry at the end of my postdoctoral programme. My Marie Curie Fellowship during my PhD programme expanded my network considerably and offered me some industrial experience. This later helped me have a smooth transition to the industry.
SUCCESS AT SCILIFELAB: MEET ALEXEY AMUNTS
Alexey Amunts heads the Biology of Molecular Interactions programme at Science for Life Laboratory (SciLifeLab). His story is one about innovation and definitely worth sharing.
ABOUT ALEXEY AMUNTS
I was born and raised in Moscow. I completed my undergraduate studies at the Tel Aviv University in Israel. In 2005, I had the opportunity to do a PhD on the structure and function of plant photosystem at the lab of Nathan Nelson. Dealing with such a challenging research subject under the mentorship of this great scientist provided a fundament for understanding what it takes to tackle central questions in biology. Following this line in a more independent manner, I worked on my postdoc with Venki Ramakrishnan at the Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. This was partially funded by Marie Curie. Particularly benefiting from advances in cryo-EM, we characterised the mitochondrial ribosomes that resulted in the discovery of new unexpected basic features of protein synthesis. Tackling this question also involved the development of novel technical aspects that led to solution of the structures at unprecedentedly high level of details. This experience led me to become a group leader at Stockholm University and fellow at the Science for Life Laboratory, where we established the first high-resolution cryo-EM lab in Sweden as part of the national facility.
The Science for Life Laboratory (SciLifeLab) is a joint enterprise of four universities. Its aim is to provide frontline technologies for Sweden’s academic community and to develop cutting-edge research. It is the country’s largest single investment in life sciences. SciLifeLab is situated on the expanding Stockholm biomedical campus that includes the University Hospital and pharma companies. To support research and technology development, the institute is organised in Research Programmes. Each programme is a collaboration hub of research labs and facilities with its own strengths and strategically complementing goals
LEADING THE PROGRAMME FOR BIOLOGY OF MOLECULAR INTERACTIONS IN SCIENCE FOR LIFE LABORATORY
Our programme combines 23 research groups focusing on imaging, proteomics and drug discovery. The common ground is the aim to understand central biological dynamic processes at the molecular level. To promote collaborative research and provide the necessary infrastructure, research groups are accompanied with the molecular biology orientated facilities including cryo-EM, protein production, mass-spec and drug development.
My vision is that, by bringing together a critical mass of an exceptional talent and providing means to investigate complex scientific questions that are out of reach for any single research group, we will not only benefit from the academic complementarity, but also further promote technological innovation.
Although the programme started very recently, the collaborative approach has already removed barriers between groups making the infrastructure more accessible. This allows students to gain training on sophisticated equipment, leveraging from the synergy between research groups and infrastructure.
In addition to the strong academic environment, I have forged a partnership with the next generation synchrotron MAX IV Laboratory and a pharma company AstraZeneca. Together, we have launched particularly challenging initiatives that would benefit from a multi-disciplinary approach, for example development of cross-infrastructure instrumentation with a potential of providing a national resource and expanding into new sectors in the future. From the perspective of students and postdocs, the added value is that such a working atmosphere offers attractive opportunities to develop in both academy and industry.
Embarking on a career in science is all about heading into uncharted territory, which frequently involves taking risks in a rapidly evolving environment.
Therefore, the most useful advice would probably be not to try following someone else’s path, but to find your own way. For me, personally, mentorship and scientific friendships have been meaningful in carving out my own path. Now I am in a position of handing it over to younger researchers by providing them with a supportive environment, freedom to create and opportunities to develop themselves. From there on, it really is up to each individual.