Axelera AI Closes $27M Series A Investment
European AI startup Axelera AI has closed its $27 million Series A investment round.
The funding will support Axelera AI’s launch and mass production of its first-generation artificial intelligence (AI) acceleration platform, powered by its disruptive in-memory computing and dataflow.
Axelera AI will also use the funding to further expand its team. In just 14 months the company has hired more than 80 team members, distributed between its headquarters at the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven (NL), its R&D offices in Leuven (BE) and Zurich (CH), its newest offices in Milan (IT) and Bristol (UK), and its Europe-wide remote locations. The team hails from 11 European countries and includes nearly 70 senior engineers and developers from world-leading AI companies and research centers like Intel, Qualcomm, IBM, and imec. The company plans to expand to the United States and Taiwan this year.
Axelera AI says it is designing the “world’s most efficient and advanced solutions for AI at the edge” and that its “game-changing hardware and software product will concentrate the AI computational power of an entire server into a single chip at a fraction of the power consumption and price of AI hardware today”. The company’s groundbreaking solution will empower thousands of applications of AI at the edge, making the use of AI more efficient and accessible than ever before. Axelera AI’s products will be fully integrated with the leading open-sourced AI frameworks when it launches to select customers and partners in early 2023.
In just 14 months, Axelera AI has already delivered what it calls “impressive results”. Last December, the company taped-out its first testbench chip—Thetis Core—delivering 39.3 tera operations per second (TOP/s) with an efficiency of 14.1 TOPs/W at an INT8 precision in less than 9 sq. mm. The company has made significant progress in its software stack as well, which will allow customers to run their neural networks on Axelera AI’s accelerator without any model retraining.
“Our extraordinary team merges complementary expertise in deep learning, in-memory computing, dataflow architecture, and AI software with a proven track record of business success,” said Evangelos Eleftheriou, CTO and co-founder of Axelera AI. “We look forward to launching new AI solutions across the globe that will address the demanding requirements of AI applications at the edge.”
“The closing of this investment round comes just few months after our announcement of the Thetis Core, which proved to the AI community the advantages of our technology,” added Fabrizio del Maffeo, CEO and co-founder of Axelera AI. “The strong commitment of our investors only further confirms that there is space and need in the European AI landscape for a leader. We are excited to take on this responsibility and are determined to strengthen Europe’s presence in the global AI sector.”
The funding round was led by Innovation Industries and joined by imec.xpand and the Federal Holding and Investment Company of Belgium (SFPIM). In addition, the Netherland Enterprise Agency (RVO) awarded Axelera AI with $6.7 million of Innovation Credit (Innovatiekrediet), a special loan reserved for highly innovative and impactful projects, commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy. Two of these investors previously joined the company’s $12 million seed round last September—European deep tech venture capital funds Innovation Industries and imec.xpand.
“Axelera AI is a unique Dutch start-up on a journey to deliver a disruptive AI chip that will accelerate the application of AI at the ‘edge of IOT’,” said Sander Verbrugge, partner at Innovation Industries, who also serves on Axelera AI’s non-executive board. “Affordable AI compute power operating at low power is essential to unlock the full potential of AI in our everyday lives. We are proud to be part of this journey and to support this world-class team achieve its ambitions.”
To its non-executive board, Axelera AI has welcomed Verbrugge along with Jonathan Ballon, former vice president and general manager of Intel’s Edge AI and IoT business; Cyril Vančura, partner at imec.xp; and Valery Vavilov, founder & CVO at Bitfury group. Marc Ceurremans from the SFPIM will serve as board observer.
As of today, Ballon will serve as chairman of Axelera AI.
“Every industry is on the precipice of creating unprecedented breakthroughs in customer value by harnessing the world’s exponentially growing data set. To do so will require technology that is purpose-built for the task,” concluded Ballon. “Axelera AI’s groundbreaking AI platforms promise to usher in this new era in computing, and I am privileged to work alongside the leadership team and fellow board members to accelerate the company’s trajectory.”
Axelera AI will shortly announce its first product and begin raising for its Series B later this year.