Graphcore lands $30m from top AI experts Demis Hassabis from Deepmind, Uber's Zoubin Ghahramani and more along with Atomico and others

Lynsey Barber
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Deepmind founder Demis Hassabis is among Graphcore's fresh investors (Source: Getty)

Some of the world's leading experts in artificial intelligence are among fresh investors to plough $30m into a Bristol-based chip startup.

Google DeepMind founder Demis Hassabis and Zoubin Ghahramani, Uber's chief scientist and Cambridge university professor, are among new investors in Graphcore, which makes chips that can process machine learning faster and more efficiently.

It comes hot on the heels of a $30m (£23m) raise only in October last year. While the latest cash was not a necessity, the calibre of interested investors after the oversubscribed series A led Graphcore to take on the new round of investment, which was led by VC firm Atomico.

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AI experts Greg Brockman, Ilya Sutskever, Pieter Abbeel, Scott Gray from research group OpenAI are aso investing in the latest round.

Graphcore, which was earlier this year named one of the most disruptive startups in the world, will spend the fresh funds on developing its technology and the business at a faster rate than originally anticipated.

Hassabis, said: “Building systems capable of general artificial intelligence means developing algorithms that can learn from raw data and generalise this learning across a wide range of tasks. This requires a lot of processing power, and the innovative architecture underpinning Graphcore's processors holds a huge amount of promise."

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Atomico partner Siraj Khaliq will join the Graphcore board. He said: "It’s clear that machine intelligence will sit at the heart of the technological leaps we’ll see in this coming chapter of human history – a process already well underway."

Existing investors also participated. They include Amadeus Capital, Robert Bosch Venture Capital, C4 Ventures, Dell Technologies Capital, Draper Esprit, Foundation Capital, Pitango and Samsung Catalyst Fund. ARM founder Hermann Hauser is also an early investor in the firm.

“Atomico has a genuinely deep understanding of the machine intelligence market and how it will evolve over the coming years. They also share our vision for building a major new company that can stand at the forefront of what we call ‘Compute 2.0’ – this new age of machine intelligence computing," said Graphcore founder Nigel Toon.

"Many of the leading innovators that we have been working with over the last three years will be early access customers and we will have an exciting time over the next few months.”

In the same way that graphic processing unit (GPU) chips support the graphics performance on devices such as smartphones, Graphcore's intelligence processing unit (IPU) chips support machine learning in things like driverless cars and are much more powerful.

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"Graphcore’s first IPU delivers one to two orders of magnitude more performance over the latest industry offerings, making it possible to develop new models with far less time waiting around for algorithms to finish running," said Khaliq.

"In that sense, the IPU doesn't just accelerate code, it should help developers accelerate the pace of innovation itself.”

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