The delegation also included Dunbridge Financial, Grey Wolf AI, Oliver Point of Sale, PayTic, SONA, SnapB2B, and the Identity Score, and was led by Venn Innovation.  The aim of the conference was to connect with potential partners, investors, and customers.
“We’ve spent the last three years building on the momentum of this sector, taking the companies to various shows, including Money20/20. The companies understood the value of going, and appreciated our connectivity to the industry, including to senior executives,” says Jonathan Dunnett, head of global ecosystem and member success at Atlantic Fintech.
While it’s still early days yet, Dunnett says he hopes that the connections that happened in Vegas, won’t just stay in Vegas.
“While there are elements that take time, we had some fantastic meetings at the show and we have positive expectations.”
Coming off the heels of its nomination for the Emerging Enterprise Award at the Saint John Region Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Business Awards, and a $3 million investment in seed capital in January, this has been quite the year for Troj.ai.  It’s also included recognition two years in a row by technology trends/valuations firm Gartner. And in May the company was recognized by business research and analysis firm CB Insights as one of the 100 most promising private AI companies in the world.
The connections made with banking industry titans in Las Vegas could prove to be the icing on an already impressive cake.
“We were [at Money 202/20] trying to meet the banks to understand where they are in their AI development journey, and how they view risk management,” says Stephen Goddard, co-founder of Troj.ai.
Troj.ai’s other co-founder, Dr. James Stewart, who has been at the helm of another Atlantic Canadian startup, EhEye, and their business development and marketing officer Shelrae Russell represented the company at Money 20/20.
With heavy hitters like Price Waterhouse Coopers, Shopify, and Roku Inc. in attendance, conferences like these are good touchstones for where industry standards are and what market gaps there might be that firms like Troj.ai can capitalize on.
“It turned out to be really helpful because there are very few people in the world that are doing what we’re doing,” says Goddard of the AI risk management and transparency work Troj.ai is doing with large corporations like banks.
“The need is growing almost exponentially between regulations that are being introduced and initiatives around responsible and trusted AI. Large banks are signing up, making declarations that they will ensure that their AI is deployed responsibly. That it’s free of bias and it’s explainable. That it’s robust.”
“So you can make that declaration but how do you actually prove to your stakeholders that you’re actually doing it?”
That’s where Troj.ai steps in. The company is focused on helping companies understand and manage their risk by testing and revealing vulnerabilities in their AI models.
It all harkens back to how Troj.ai came up with its very inside baseball name, a clue to customers about their area of expertise.
To build an AI model you need to gather large amounts of training data, tens of thousands of images, for example, of each a dog and a cat for a model to “understand” the difference between the two.
Once you have a training set where you can hide an image within an image such that a human would look at it and see a dog, but there’s a pixilation that would cause the computer to see it as a cat.
“That type of attack on artificial intelligence is known as embedded trojan attack,” he explains.
Troj.ai’s work over the past three years in this emerging field is not only getting recognition from industry insiders, but big US clients are also expressing interest in the firm and its products.
“One of the big US regulators came to us to help them assess the risk vulnerabilities of their AI program,” Goddard says. He added that this regulator used all three of its AI models, computer vision, natural language processing, and tabular models.
“It was a six-month engagement for a pretty mature, well-recognized organization. So that was a biggie,” he says.
Troj.ai also got a nod this year, being included in the Canadian Automotive Manufacturers Association “Project Arrow” autonomous electronic vehicle.
“They selected 50 representative vendors across Canada to build an electric car that has autonomous capabilities and we were selected as one of the companies to do the cyber security on the autonomous driving platform,” Goddard says, adding that Magna, Michelin and Microsoft were some of the other companies involved.  “So to be included in that national program was a big deal. Its projects like that is what we’re most proud of and what we’re probably being recognized for by folks around here.”
“It can be it can be discouraging during those early years,” Goddard says of trying to gain traction with potential clients and investors.  “So, it’s always nice when, you get a knock on the door and someone says: ‘Hey, we’ve been noticing your work and we think you’re doing some neat stuff.’”
Alex Graham is a Huddle reporter in Saint John. Send her your feedback and story ideas: [email protected]

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