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Follow on investment in Graphcore’s $30 million series B funding

Posted by Isabella Cookson, 20 Jul 2017
 

Graphcore IPU products will lower the cost of accelerating AI applications, increase the performance of both training and inference by 10x to 100x compared to the fastest systems today and enable recent success in deep learning to evolve rapidly towards useful, general artificial intelligence.

19 July 2017, Bristol. Machine intelligence company, Graphcore, has today announced a $30 million Series B funding round, led by Atomico. The new funding comes as the company prepares to ship its first Intelligence Processing Unit (IPU) hardware to customers later this year, with scale-up production for enterprise datacentres and cloud environments in 2018. The Series B round is dedicated to accelerating roadmap development and building a community of developers and partners around its PoplarÔ graph framework software, establishing Graphcore as the leader in the market for machine intelligence processors. Nigel Toon, CEO at Graphcore said: “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. 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.” Siraj Khaliq, the Atomico Partner who will join the Graphcore board of directors, 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. 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. In that sense, the IPU doesn’t just accelerate code, it should help developers accelerate the pace of innovation itself.” Alongside Atomico as lead investor, the round has full support and follow-on funding from existing investors: Amadeus Capital, Robert Bosch Venture Capital, C4 Ventures, Dell Technologies Capital, Draper Esprit, Foundation Capital, Pitango and Samsung Catalyst Fund. AI pioneers Demis Hassabis (DeepMind), Greg Brockman (OpenAI), Ilya Sutskever (OpenAI), Pieter Abbeel (UC Berkeley/OpenAI), Scott Gray (OpenAI) and Zoubin Ghahramani (University of Cambridge, Chief Scientist at Uber) have also joined the round as angel investors. This gives Graphcore a direct line to top machine learning thought leaders, maximising its impact on the machine intelligence ecosystem. Demis Hassabis, said: “Building systems capable of general artificial intelligence means developing algorithms that can learn from raw data and generalize 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." Greg Brockman, said: “Training machine intelligence models in minutes rather than days or weeks will profoundly transform how developers work, how they experiment and the results they will see. Being able to experiment across a much broader front, at a much faster pace will create new breakthroughs and will allow us to combine many machine intelligence techniques to jumpstart progress.” Zoubin Ghahramani, commented: “Deep neural networks have allowed us to make massive progress over the last few years, but there are also many other machine learning approaches that could help us achieve radical leaps forward in machine intelligence. Current hardware is holding us back from exploring these different approaches. A new type of hardware that can support and combine alternative techniques, together with deep neural networks, will have a massive impact.” The company is building a community of developers around its Poplar™ graph-framework software, which provides a seamless interface to multiple machine learning frameworks, including Tensorflow, MxNet, Caffe2 and PyTorch. Poplar is a C++ framework, not a new programming language, which abstracts the graph-based machine learning development process from the underlying graph processing IPU hardware. Poplar includes a comprehensive, open source set of graph libraries for machine learning, which means existing user applications written in standard machine learning frameworks, like Tensorflow and MXNet, will work out of the box on an IPU. It will also be a natural basis for future machine intelligence programming paradigms which extend beyond tensor-centric deep learning. Machine learning innovators who want to be first to find out more can register their interest here. About Graphcore Graphcore’s Intelligence Processing Unit (IPU) products let innovators create next generation machine intelligence. The IPU is the first processor to be designed specifically for machine intelligence and will deliver between 10x to 100x acceleration compared to today’s hardware. Graphcore is backed by leading venture capital and strategic investors including Amadeus Capital Partners, Atomico, C4 Ventures, Dell Technologies Capital, Draper Esprit, Foundation Capital, Pitango Venture Capital, Robert Bosch Venture Capital and Samsung Catalyst Fund, and is headquartered in Bristol UK. More information can be found at https://www.graphcore.ai



 

Perkbox raise a further $8.6 million from Draper Esprit

Posted by Isabella Cookson, 17 Jul 2017
 

Draper Esprit (AIM: GROW, ESM: GRW), the leading public European venture capital firm, today announces that it has significantly increased its equity stake in Perkbox, investing a further $8.6 million. Draper Esprit first invested in Perkbox in 2016 alongside the equity crowdfunding platform, Seedrs, and, including the follow-on investment, has now invested over $12.0 million.  Founded in 2015, Perkbox is the digital employee engagement platform that launched in 2015. They have also developed a “Perkbox for customers”, a white-label platform which helps businesses acquire, connect with and retain loyal businesses. Forbes recently ranked Perkbox as one of Britain’s top 5 startups while they were ranked no.3 in the startups 100 index of the most innovative and fastest growing startups in the UK. The startup has doubled year on year and now has over 165 employees, having opened a new office in Sheffield last February. The investment in Perkbox will enable the company to access untapped demand in the market as it supports a growing number of diverse clients from SMEs to large corporates. As the battle to access and retain employees and customers gets ever harder, Perkbox empower companies (small and large) to retain and motivate employees. The company has grown significantly and counts Holland and Barrett, AXA, Le Pain Quotidien, Deliveroo, Worldpay, BlaBlaCar among many of its customers and is now looking to expand internationally. Simon Cook, CEO Draper Esprit commented: “Perkbox has shown further hyper growth since we invested last year and we believe the team are well on the way to becoming the market leader with both amazing product innovation and huge customer engagement. Our model is predicated on following our capital to work over the long term and to actively support our leading companies. Employee engagement is increasingly essential and Perkbox’s platform provides an innovative solution to increase workplace happiness and improve productivity.” Saurav Chopra, CEO and co-Founder of Perkbox, said: “We are exceptionally happy to have Draper Esprit as a significant investor in Perkbox. We believe they understand and agree with our mission to create a better society through building stronger relationships with employees and customers, and we continuously benefit from their insight and assistance in building a global scalable business in our defined end user markets.”  



 

Manchester-based Push Doctor achieves largest ever Series B funding in Tech North

Posted by Isabella Cookson, 05 Jul 2017
 

 $26.1M investment reflects massive potential of digital services in the North of England Manchester, July 5th 2017: Europe’s largest digital health provider, Push Doctor, today announced that it has raised $26.1M in a Series B funding round led by a powerful syndicate of global investors: Accelerated Digital Ventures (ADV) and Draper Esprit with participation from Oxford Capital, Partech Ventures and Seventure Partners. This marks the largest Series B funding achieved in Tech North to date. Push Doctor is the first truly digital health consumer brand in the UK, connecting patients to a smart network of thousands of UK qualified GPs, giving them access to a d­­octor in as little as six minutes on any device. The city of Manchester has truly established itself as a hub for Northern power following Andy Burnham’s decisive victory as Mayor of Greater Manchester in May 2017. What’s more, the region became the very first in the country to take control of its combined health and social care budgets last year, putting power back into the hands of local-decision makers and right back into the heart of the Manchester community. Push Doctor’s funding announcement shows that the city is at the core of the UK’s advancements in digital healthcare and technology. The brand’s founder and CEO, Eren Ozagir, explained how the firm will provide everyone with the opportunity to live longer, happier lives: “We have treated more cases digitally than anyone in Europe and consistently grown over 35% month-on-month for 16 months. As a result, we have a dataset that provides a unique view of the medical issues facing a nation. This has meant that we have been able to scope and create a data-driven digital health platform that will treat the whole person. No one before Push Doctor has provided consumers with access to a single digital health platform that combines responsive medicine and chronic condition management as well as fitness and nutritional conditioning.” This round of investment will also enable Push Doctor to bring new products to market, the first of which will hit later this year, further expanding the company’s value-proposition for patients as it couples its market-changing instant access doctors with complementary products and services. Team numbers at the start-up, based in the heart of Manchester, have continued to rise as the brand’s growth rate rockets. Ozagir continued: “This recent funding round will see us boost our growth in customer numbers and take significant steps in our ambition to become the preferred consumer digital health care brand in the world.” Michael Dimelow, Head of Investment at ADV, remarked: “The health and wellbeing sector is perfectly positioned to benefit from digital technology innovation, and the UK is one of the best places from which to build a global business in this space.  We’re delighted to announce our investment in Push Doctor with its unique vision to build an open platform, where the entire industry can connect and collaborate.  Equally, consumers will gain efficient and direct access to healthcare professionals.  The Push Doctor team is tried and tested in building international internet propositions at scale, and we look forward to supporting them in their journey to build an industry-defining global healthcare platform.” Dr. Vishal Gulati, digital health investor at Draper Esprit, commented: “People's expectations around how, when and where they access healthcare have evolved. Push Doctor is the leading health provider which is addressing growing, unmet patient needs. By putting the patient experience first, the company is changing our relationship with healthcare, lowering the hurdle of access for both immediate needs and chronic, long term conditions. Having known the team for two years now, I am excited to continue working with them to build a product which reshapes patient experiences in the future.” Tom Bradley, Partner at Oxford Capital, said: “We continue to believe that digital health will change the way everyone interacts and manages their healthcare today, and in the future, which is why we invested in Push Doctor early and continue to today. This next phase of the brand’s development will see the whole team create a product set that truly reflects the needs of not just a nation, but a population generally, as we strive to make people healthier for the long term. This reflects our investment strategy of identifying potential market leaders early and supporting them through that transition from potential to leader.” Isabelle de Cremoux, CEO & Managing Partner at Seventure Partner, stated: “Push Doctor’s digital health and wellness platform is well differentiated and has the potential to make a significant impact on the delivery of doctors’ services in the UK and beyond. We look forward to working with Eren and his team to expand the business and see Push Doctor fulfil its full potential.”