Company to launch AI acceleration platform in early 2023.
Eindhoven, Netherlands – October 25, 2022 – European AI startup Axelera AI announced today the close of its $27 million Series A investment round.
The funding will support Axelera AI’s launch and mass production of its first-generation AI acceleration platform, powered by its disruptive in-memory computing and dataflow. Axelera AI will also further expand its team. Since its inception and initial funding last year, Axelera AI successfully taped-out its first testbench chip, developed entirely in-house, proving the performance and efficiency of in-memory compute for AI computations [Link]. In just 14 months the company has also 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 is designing the world’s most efficient and advanced solutions for AI at the edge. 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 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 square millimeters. The company has made significant progress in its software stack as well, which will allow customers to easily 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. We look forward to launching new AI solutions across the globe that will address the demanding requirements of AI applications at the edge,” said Evangelos Eleftheriou, CTO and co-founder of Axelera AI.
“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. 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,” said Fabrizio del Maffeo, CEO and co-founder of Axelera AI.
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’,” according to Sander Verbrugge, Partner at Innovation Industries. “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.”
“Axelera AI has brought together a stellar team and, as such unites several distinct in-memory compute efforts from across Europe under one roof. We very much look forward to continuing our support of the company and the team and help them to achieve their ambitious goals by leveraging imec.xpand’s cross-border, value-add platform and network,” said Cyril Vančura, Partner at imec.xpand.
“SFPIM is delighted to take part in this closing. SFPIM is proud to have now Axelera in its portfolio, a company with great ambitions which is fully aligned with the strategy of SFPM regarding innovation and technology. We are looking forward to following the company in its further developments,” said Koen Van Loo, CEO of SFPIM.
Axelera AI was originally incubated by Bitfury Group. Brian Brooks, CEO of Bitfury Group said, “Axelera AI is a jewel in our portfolio of innovative ventures. We are incredibly proud of the software/hardware integrated solution the team is building. This round validates both the promise of Axelera AI and Bitfury’s strategy of creating diversified technology breakthroughs across a wide range of industry segments.”
To its non-executive board, Axelera AI has welcomed Jonathan Ballon, former Vice President and General Manager of Intel’s Edge AI and IoT business alongside Cyril Vančura, Partner at imec.xpand, Sander Verbrugge, partner at Innovation Industries, and Valery Vavilov, founder & CVO at Bitfury group, will also serve as a non-executive directors. Marc Ceurremans from the SFPIM will serve as board observer.
Per today, Jonathan 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. 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.” said Jonathan Ballon, Chairman of Axelera AI.
Axelera AI will shortly announce its first product and begin raising for its Series B later this year.
For more information, contact:
Merlijn Linschooten, email@example.com
Axelera AI Leadership
Axelera AI is led by CEO and co-founder Fabrizio del Maffeo. Prior to founding Axelera AI, he was Head of Artificial Intelligence at Bitfury and Vice President/Managing Director of Asus Group company AAEON Europe.
Evangelos Eleftheriou, an IEEE Fellow and IBM Fellow Emeritus, is the CTO and co-founder of Axelera AI. Prior to founding Axelera AI, he held various management positions at IBM Research – Zurich. His outstanding achievements led him to become an IBM Fellow, which is IBM’s highest technical honor.
To its non-executive board, Axelera AI has welcomed Jonathan Ballon, former Vice President and General Manager of Intel’s Edge AI and IoT business, alongside Cyril Vančura, Partner at imec.xpand. Sander Verbrugge, partner at Innovation Industries, and Valery Vavilov, founder & CVO at Bitfury group, will also serve as a non-executive directors.
Axelera AI is advised by internationally renowned AI experts Professor Luca Benini, chair of digital Circuits and Systems at D-ITET ETH Zurich; Professor Marian Verhelst, Scientific Director at imec and a professor at MICAS in KU Leuven; and Torsten Hoefler, professor at ETH Zurich and director of the Scalable Parallel Computing Laboratory.
Axelera AI is designing the world’s most powerful and advanced solutions for AI at the edge. 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. Headquartered in the AI Innovation Center of the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven, Axelera AI has R&D offices in Belgium, Switzerland, and Italy. Its team of experts in AI software and hardware hail from top AI firms and Fortune 500 companies. For more information on Axelera AI see: www.axelera.ai
About Innovation Industries
Innovation Industries is a Deeptech venture capital investor that invests up to €30M in Hightech, Agri&Foodtech and Medtech businesses. Today, Innovation Industries manages over €275M across two funds and has a team of 15 investment professionals. Its largest investors are the Dutch pension funds PME and PMT. Innovation Industries invests from seed to late stage and has partnerships with all Dutch technical universities and research institute TNO. For more information on Innovation Industries see: www.innovationindustries.com
Imec.xpand is an early stage and growth venture capital fund with a game-changing approach to turn hardware driven nanotechnology innovation into successful global companies. The fund is independently managed by a team of entrepreneurs, seasoned venture capitalists and business experts and is targeting ambitious tech start-ups that meet all the criteria to become a successful, scalable venture with the potential to change the world. Imec.xpand will boost those ventures by supporting them operationally and financially from seed to exit, by enabling capex light innovation in a capex heavy environment and by giving them access to the unique imec knowledge, expertise, network and state of the art infrastructure. For more information about imec.xpand please visit us on www.imecxpand.com
The Federal Holding and Investment Company (Société Fédérale de Participations et d’Investissement (SFPI) in French or Federale Participatie- en Investeringsmaatschappij (FPIM) in Dutch) is the Belgian Sovereign Wealth Fund.
SFPIM acts as a trusted partner in helping Belgian companies, SME as well as scale-ups, to become a reference in their industry by providing smart capital solutions.
SFPIM also plays a major role to safeguard the long-term stability of the Belgian economy by contributing to the anchoring of strategic assets through smart capital solutions in both promising and established companies or ecosystems.
SFPIM invests in a wide range of companies and sectors embracing both historical sectors (such as lifesciences & healthcare, finance and aeronautics) as well as new and thriving sectors (such as energy & utilities, transport & mobiity and impact investing).
SFPIM has about 8,9 bln in assets under management for the Federal State.
The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) supports entrepreneurs and organizations to invest, develop and expand their businesses and projects. Both in the Netherlands and abroad. RVO is a government agency of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy.
imec is a world-leading research and innovation centre in nanoelectronics and digital technologies. Imec leverages its state-of-the-art R&D infrastructure and its team of more than 5.000 employees and top researchers, for R&D in advanced semiconductor and system scaling, silicon photonics, artificial intelligence, beyond 5G communications and sensing technologies, and in application domains such as health and life sciences, mobility, industry 4.0, agrofood, smart cities, sustainable energy, and education. Imec unites world-industry leaders across the semiconductor value chain, Flanders-based and international tech, pharma, medical and ICT companies, start-ups, and academia and knowledge centers. Imec is headquartered in Leuven (Belgium), and has research sites across Belgium, in the Netherlands, Taiwan and the USA, and offices in China, India and Japan. In 2020, imec’s revenue (P&L) totaled 680 million euro. Further information on imec can be found at www.imec-int.com.
About The Bitfury Group
The Bitfury Group is the world’s leading emerging technologies company. Bitfury™ is building solutions for the future, with the most significant technologies of the millennium. Our mission is to make the world more transparent and trusted by innovating at every level of technology – hardware, security, and software – to put trust back into the equation. Founded in 2011, Bitfury is the leading security and infrastructure provider for the Bitcoin Blockchain. In addition to securing the Bitcoin Blockchain, Bitfury also designs and produces innovative hardware that keeps cryptocurrencies and blockchains secure, including custom semiconductor chips and mobile data centers. Bitfury is also a software provider for some of the world’s most cutting-edge applications through its Exonum™ private blockchain framework and its Crystal™ Blockchain, the most advanced blockchain analytics platform for digital asset compliance. To learn more, visit www.bitfury.com.