Oxford University spinout Lumai secures £1.1m Innovate UK Smart Grant to power optical computing revolution

By | February 16, 2023

– Oxford start-up to bring optical neural networks to the UK market, which can be 1000x faster than traditional approaches

London, UK, 16th February 2023: Lumai, the start-up unlocking the potential of optical computing, today announced that it has been awarded a prestigious Innovate UK Smart Grant to commercialise its ground-breaking work in all-optical network training and deep optics for faster, more efficient computing.

Spinning out of The University of Oxford in January 2022, Lumai is developing all-optical neural networks for next-generation artificial intelligence (AI). With £1.1m in Smart funding won, the company is creating advanced optical computing processors where the information flow and calculations are not dependent on electronic processing. The Grant was awarded in conjunction with The University of Oxford, and follows its previous funding from IP Group plc, the developer of world-changing science and technology businesses, and Runa Capital, the Luxembourg-headquartered global venture capital firm.

Existing transistor-based digital electronics are struggling to support the potential offered by AI, especially with the explosive increase of computation demand to support breakthrough AI models such as ChatGPT. To combat this, Lumai’s computing platform is capable of energy-efficient and ultra-fast, parallel processing. Lumai’s optical neural networks can be 1000x faster – and much more sustainable – than existing transistor-based digital electronics.

The funding will support Lumai in building and launching optical neural networks for high-performance computing and machine vision, while simultaneously leading developments in advanced optical technologies.

Tim Weil, CEO at Lumai, commented: “The Innovate UK Smart Grant win is a testament to the team’s vision and passion to create optical computers that are significantly faster and consume less energy than traditional electronics. After spinning out from The University of Oxford, it’s fitting that we work together on the Innovate UK project to further enhance the capabilities of these advanced optical systems. We’re excited to be bringing Lumai’s game changing technology to the world, and we look forward to making our mark on the UK market and beyond.”

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Prof. Alex Lvovsky, co-founder of Lumai and award-winning expert in optical computing, added: “There is vast potential for optical neural networks, and the backing from Innovate UK – alongside investment from IP Group plc and Runa Capital – will help us to develop our vision to build ONNs and deliver on the huge potential of optical computing.”

Innovate UK’s Smart Grant has focused eligibility criteria and scope to support SMEs and their partners to develop disruptive innovations with significant potential for rapid, economic return to the UK. Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is investing up to £25 million in the best game-changing, and world leading ideas, designed for swift, successful commercialisation.

To find out more about Lumai visit its website here.

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About Lumai
Lumai is an Oxford-based start-up focussed on the development of optical neural networks (ONNs). With the modern-day AI revolution coming with ever-increasing computational demands, optical computing offers orders of magnitude improvements in performance and power efficiency. Lumai spun out of the world-leading experimental optics research group of Professor A.I. Lvovsky with the vision of developing end-to-end all-optical neural networks where the information flow and calculations are minimally reliant on electronic processing.

Contact information
Roseanna Lane
rlane@thecommsco.com
+44 7770 239888

About Innovate UK

Innovate UK drives productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas.

We connect businesses to the partners, customers and investors that can help them turn ideas into commercially successful products and services and business growth.

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We fund business and research collaborations to accelerate innovation and drive business investment into R&D. Our support is available to businesses across all economic sectors, value chains and UK regions. Innovate UK is part of UK Research and Innovation.

For more information visit www.innovateuk.ukri.org

About IP Group

IP Group develops world-changing science and technology businesses across life sciences, technology and cleantech (through Kiko Ventures). The Group has a strong track record of success, having been the founder investor in a number of high-profile companies including Oxford Nanopore Technologies plc, and has one of the most exciting portfolios of high-growth businesses in Europe. The Group also owns Parkwalk, the UK’s largest growth EIS fund manager which backs world-changing technologies emerging from the UK’s leading universities and research institutions. IP Group is listed on the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange under the code IPO.

For more information, please visit our website at www.ipgroupplc.com.

About Runa Capital
Founded in 2010, Runa Capital is an international venture capital firm headquartered in Luxembourg that invests in enterprise software, deep tech (open-source software, machine learning, and quantum computing), and software solutions revolutionizing regulated markets like finance, education, and healthcare.
From 2010 to 2022, Runa Capital raised over $ 500M and invested in more than 100 companies in Europe and North America, including Nginx (acquired by F5 Networks for $ 700 million), MariaDB, Zopa, Brainly, DrChrono, Smava, and Mambu. The firm’s founding partners have built several global software companies, including Acronis (valued at more than $ 3.5 billion after a round with Blackrock), Parallels (acquired by Corel), Odin (acquired by Ingram Micro), and Acumatica (acquired by private equity fund EQT Partners).

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For more information, please visit https://runacap.com

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