2023-09-26

Machine Discovery Secures £4.5 Million to Deliver AI Tools For Semiconductor Design

Investment round led by BGF and East innovate

Machine Discovery Secures £4.5 Million to Deliver AI Tools For Semiconductor Design

  • Novel machine learning technology dramatically accelerates compute-intensive simulations.

  • First core application in analog semiconductor design, delivering instant prediction capability for integrated circuit design as a companion to existing tools and simulators.

  • By 2026, Machine Discovery will cut the analog semiconductor product development cycle in half.

OXFORD, United Kingdom and SANTA CLARA, California, September 26 , 2023: Machine Discovery, a software company which uses machine learning technology to accelerate compute-intensive optimisation and simulation tasks, has secured £4.5 million of funding.

The investment round was led by BGF, one of the UK’s largest investors, and East Innovate, alongside Foresight WAE Technology Funds, UK Innovation and Science Seed Fund (UKI2S), independently managed by Future Planet Capital (Ventures) Ltd, and Oxford Technology.

This latest round of funding will allow the company to grow its engineering and business development teams in the UK and the USA, driving commercial adoption of its technology across the semiconductor design space and in other markets.

Bijan Kiani, CEO at Machine Discovery, said: “Machine Discovery is pioneering the use of machine learning to reduce product development cycles in a variety of sectors.

“We thank our partners for their continued support at a key stage of the company’s development, enabling us to expand the number of users utilising our Discovery Platform and drive forward the company’s future innovations.”

Luke Rajah, investor at BGF, said: “With cutting-edge machine learning technology and a management team with deep industry expertise, we believe Machine Discovery is poised for rapid adoption and growth.

“Early customer results in analog semiconductor design have shown the potential of the technology to massively accelerate the time to develop new products, which will enable leading semiconductor players to differentiate themselves in the market.”

Machine Discovery was spun out of the University of Oxford by researchers in the physics department. Co-founder and CSO Muhammad Kasim invented the machine learning technology that underpins the company's work, while co-founder and CTO Brett Larder developed the first prototype of its Discovery Platform.

Other co-founders including Professor Gianluca Gregori and Professor Sam Vinko are continuing with their contributions in an advisory capacity while connecting the company to the research community.

The company is led by its CEO Bijan Kiani and Non-Executive Chair Janet Collyer, who each have over 20 years of experience in the electronic design tools space.

Machine Discovery's AI platform offers the ability to manage complex collaborative projects across large teams, with a high number of simulation runs. The platform's novel emulation technology creates, from conventional simulation outputs, neural- network-based models for real-time prediction. The platform's optimisation engine uses AI algorithms for optimisation and sampling and combines simulation and neural-network model outputs to enable the exploration of a significantly larger design space at a record speed.

Editorial Contacts:

Machine Discovery Bijan Kiani (bijan@machine-discovery.com)

BGF Zoe Bagnall (zoe@ambitiouspr.co.uk)

Quote Sheet

Luke Rajah, investor at BGF, said: “With cutting-edge machine learning technology and a management team with deep industry expertise, we believe Machine Discovery is poised for rapid adoption and growth. Early customer results in analog semiconductor design have shown the potential of the technology to massively accelerate the time to develop new products, which will enable leading semiconductor players to differentiate themselves in the market.”

About BGF BGF was set-up in 2011 and has invested £3.5 billion in over 500 companies, making it the largest and most experienced growth investor in the UK and Ireland. BGF is a minority, non-controlling equity partner with a patient outlook on investments, based on shared long-term goals with the management teams it backs. BGF’s early-stage team focuses on investments across life sciences, climate & sustainability and deep tech, and invested £69m into these sectors in 2022.

Rory Scott Russell, investor at East Innovate, said: “We are excited to be participating in this important moment for the company and its breakthrough AI technology. Complex simulations are critical to the work of almost all advanced technology companies and organisations. However, they are difficult to set-up, require expensive experts, and take time to run. Some mission-critical simulations can take days, weeks or even months to get an answer. Machine Discovery’s technology solves these problems. Workflows are simplified, automated and standardised. Simulation can be run thousands or even millions of times faster. More simulations mean more science, more research, and better solutions. Better solutions mean better technology and better products. No advanced tech company can afford to stand still in this area, and Machine Discovery’s platform is already in demand from market-leaders in semi-conductors, telecoms, energy, finance, and multiple other fields.”

About East Innovate East Innovate is a London based venture capital firm that invests in early-stage companies working on transformational technologies to address the global energy challenge. It is the venture capital arm of East Alpha, a quantitative commodity technology and research company. Our thesis driven approach focuses on four technology areas: 1) Advanced Power 2) Future Materials 3) Advanced Automation and 4) Space and Communications. Within these focus areas we invest in companies with breakthrough products that have the potential to rapidly grow high-value long- lasting positions in growing international markets.

Christopher Wiles, Investment Director at Foresight WAE Technology Funds, said: “We are delighted to continue to support Machine Discovery with their Series A fund raise. We look forward to working closely with Muhammed, Brett, Bijan and the wider team to help them commercialise their disruptive simulation technology to a range of sectors including nuclear fusion and analogue semiconductor design. We also look forward to leveraging the expertise within WAE to help Machine Discovery apply their technology to the Computational Fluid Dynamics market.”

About Foresight WAE Technology Funds Foresight and WAE started their investment collaboration in 2016 with the launch of the Foresight WAE Technology EIS Fund. 2019 saw the launch of a sister VCT share class fund, which sits within the Foresight Solar and Technology VCT plc. These two funds target investment into companies developing innovative and transformational ‘deep technology’ where Foresight and WAE’s expertise and services can be harnessed to assist with the development and rapid growth of the business. https://fwt.foresight.group/

Jason Joannou, investor at UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund, said: “The UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund is a national seed investment fund that nurtures innovations emerging from the UK’s publicly funded science and knowledge labs, universities and start-ups, creating fast-growing innovative businesses by investing the crucial pre-seed funding to get these companies off the ground. UKI2S has a particular interest in fusion energy, an area where Machine Discovery’s AI-driven approach to tackle intricate physics challenges and accelerate simulations looks capable of providing a significant enhancement of the fusion sector’s capabilities. We see immense potential in Machine Discovery's contribution and are thrilled to be a part of their journey.”

About The UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund UKI2S is a national seed investment fund that nurtures innovative businesses to leverage private investment and grow jobs, recycling profits from the realisation of our investments into the next generation of impactful UK companies.

We invest in innovations emerging from the UK’s publicly funded science and knowledge base. We specialise in engineering biology, defence & security, fusion energy, to facilitate sustainable growth, enhance the health and security of society, improve productivity, and deliver economic gains emerging from UK’s public funding portfolio. Our investment decisions are based on both the potential societal impact of technologies and the potential for financial return.

The Fund has a long history of building a substantial track record of companies that between them have attracted over £700m of later stage investment, 30 times the Fund’s original investment.

The fund is backed by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), Ministry of Defence (“MOD”), the Department of Science Innovation and Technology(“DSIT”), the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) and other public bodies. It is independently managed by Future Planet Capital (Ventures) Ltd, the impact-led, global venture capital firm. Contact: jess.ratty@ha-lo.co

Lucius Cary, investor at Oxford Technology, said: “We are delighted to have been among the first investors in Machine Discovery. Not only does the technology have great potential but we introduced the founders to Dr Bijan Kiani, whom we had backed in his first (and successful) start-up company in the 1980s, who then became the CEO.”

About Oxford Technology Oxford Technology makes small investments (typically £100k) in very high risk, very high potential reward science companies near Oxford, and has been doing this since 1983. A typical investment is in a PhD in a lab doing something interesting. A quarterly report, on our most recent 50 investments (since 2012), may be downloaded from our website.

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Join Janet Collyer, Chair of Machine Discovery, and Dennis Atkinson, Investor BGF, at the Global Semiconductor Alliance event in March