Dutch AI Semiconductor Startup Axelera AI Launches With $12 Million Seed Round

Stealth company incubated by blockchain unicorn Bitfury Group and global nanoelectronics R&D center imec

AI semiconductor startup Axelera AI announced today that it has successfully closed a seed investment round of $12 million. The round was led by emerging technologies leader Bitfury and joined by global nanoelectronics R&D center imec and deep-tech venture capital funds Innovation Industries and imec.xpand. The funding will support the company’s development of an industry-defining product powering AI applications at the edge.

Axelera AI was incubated by Bitfury Group in 2019, formerly operating as Bitfury AI until the company came out as an independent entity this year. Building on its extensive research and development focused on integrating world-class hardware and software technologies for edge and cloud-to-edge enterprise solutions, Axelera AI has also joined forces with imec since early 2020 to develop groundbreaking computing architecture for high-performance AI. Headquartered in the AI Innovation Center of the High-Tech Campus in Eindhoven, Axelera AI also has R&D offices in Leuven (BE) and Zurich (CH). The company has already recruited an elite team of more than 20 senior engineers and developers from world-leading AI companies and research centers, including Intel, Qualcomm, IBM, and imec.

“With our launch as a new independent company and the closing of this investment, Axelera AI is now claiming its place as a significant player in the global AI sector,” said Fabrizio del Maffeo, CEO and co-founder of Axelera AI. “Our extraordinary team merges complementary expertise in software development, image processing, dataflow architecture, in-memory computing, algorithms and quantization with a proven track record of business success, and we look forward to building on our extensive R&D, introducing new solutions across the globe in the next few years.”

“Bitfury has a proven track record of incubating and bringing game-changing technologies to market,” said Valery Vavilov, CEO and co-founder of Bitfury Group. “We can look no further than LiquidStack, the emerging leader in two-phase liquid immersion cooling for the world’s most intensive computing applications, and Crystal Blockchain, the most advanced blockchain analytics platform for digital asset compliance. We could not be more excited to support the launch of Axelera AI, which is bound to accelerate the development and delivery of critical AI solutions for across global markets.
“Over the years imec has been researching custom circuits and novel architectures for efficient AI using in-memory compute, algorithms and quantization”, said Diederik Verkest, Program Director for machine learning at imec. “We are proud that after working together with the Bitfury Group, we can leverage and contribute this expertise to ensure Axelera AI develops and brings the best possible product to the edge AI market.”

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 working with Fabrizio and his team and helping 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.

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