Nieke Roos
24 November 2020

Grai Matter Labs (GML) has announced its latest financing round of 14 million dollars. The round was led by the iBionext healthcare startup studio in Paris, where the artificial intelligence specialist incubated, joined by all existing investors and newly welcomed Bpifrance through the Future Investment Program and Celeste Management. The fabless semiconductor scale-up with Eindhoven roots will utilize the funds to accelerate design and market launch of its first full-stack AI system-on-chip platform, to deliver on customer needs at the edge.

GML’s mission is to bring fastest AI per watt for sensor analytics and machine learning to every device on the edge. According to the company, its programmable Neuronflow technology enables industry-leading inference latency efficiently, more than an order of magnitude better than competing solutions. Its current accelerator chip Grai One and the Grai One HDK are available for product evaluation and application programming. The upcoming full-stack AI SoC platform will drive a significant step in visual inference capabilities in robotics, industrial automation, AR/VR and surveillance products and markets.

Under the (technological) leadership of Ingolf Held (left) and Menno Lindwer (right), GML has been quietly building its team and product portfolio. Credit: Grai Matter Labs

GML started out as Brainiac, incubated in 2016 within iBionext. Among its founders are Vision Institute professor Ryad Benosman, iBionext chairman Bernard Gilly and Atul Sinha – a team combining experiences in neuromorphic computing, silicon design and entrepreneurship. In December 2017, the company closed its Series-A financing round of 15 million dollars, led by iBionext, and in April of last year, it adopted its current name. Next to its HQ in the French capital, it has offices in Silicon Valley (San Jose) and Eindhoven. With Paris and the Valley focusing more on ML applications and business development, the Brainport branch is responsible for architecture exploration, hardware design and AI tools.

The Dutch connection comes from co-founder Sinha, a prominent figure in the high tech industry in the Netherlands. After having worked at Philips for 13 years, he was the long-time CEO of spinoff Silicon Hive, which was acquired by Intel in 2011 (link in Dutch). The chip giant’s decision, at the end of 2017, to terminate the team located at the High Tech Campus Eindhoven boosted GML’s Dutch presence. Several of the 115 employees had moved just around the corner to the newly formed office of the AI startup, brought together by their former boss Sinha.

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“GML has demonstrated a unique architecture capability with Neuronflow and Grai One – an industry-first silicon compute and ML architecture based on learnings from biology and the human brain,” says co-founder Gilly. GML CEO Ingolf Held adds: “This funding will help us to partner with application specialists and integrators, and to deliver best-in-class visual inference performance, SoC platforms and end-to-end applications to our customers.” “The market for edge inferencing is the most active segment of the AI chip market,” judges Michael Azoff, chief analyst at Kisaco Research. “Exploiting sparsity, both spatial and temporal, in the input data is the stand-out approach taken by GML.”