L-R: Steve Furber, Kameliya Dimova, Ashwin Kumaraswamy, Michael Denham, Tong Gu (ADV), Sir Hossein Yassaie and Mike Dimelow
L-R: Steve Furber, Kameliya Dimova, Ashwin Kumaraswamy, Michael Denham, Tong Gu (ADV), Sir Hossein Yassaie and Mike Dimelow
Richard Bell

Manchester startup lands £1.3m investment to pioneer next-gen AI systems

Tech startup MindTrace has raised a £1.3m investment as it looks to pioneer the next generation of artificial intelligence (AI) systems.

The Manchester-based company secured the seven-figure boost from Accelerated Digital Ventures (ADV) and the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, via NPIF - Mercia Equity Finance.

MindTrace is led by Prof. Michael Denham and Dr Kameliya Dimova, who are creating novel software algorithms that mimic the way the human brain works.

They are developing the technology alongside University of Manchester academic Prof. Steve Furber, who designed the BBC Microcomputer and the processors for chip giant ARM Holdings.

They are now joined by Sir Hossein Yassaie, former CEO of chipmaker Imagination Technologies plc, who has taken up the role of company chair.

MindTrace said it is currently one of just a handful of companies developing intelligent machines capable of ‘unsupervised learning’ – teaching themselves independently.

Its systems could eventually be used across a range of applications, including data management, cyber security and autonomous vehicles.

Right now, MindTrace is putting together an advanced collision avoidance system that will offer faster response times than those currently available. It could also perform better under poor lighting and needs less power and bandwidth.

With the new £1.3m investment, the firm will recruit a research and development team, appoint a CEO and collaborate with a car manufacturer to develop a prototype of its collision system.

MindTrace will then raise Series A investment to bring the product to market.

NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance is managed by Mercia Fund Managers.

Ashwin Kumaraswamy, investment director at Mercia, said: “In MindTrace, we have brought together some of the world’s leading authorities who have transformed the computing and electronics industry and are now set on a new mission – to make machines think like humans.

“This revolutionary new technology will have the potential to solve some of the major real-life challenges society will face in the years ahead, but it will take time to develop and require support at each stage.”

Ashwin added: “As investors, we are committed to working with them over the longer term.”

ADV’s head of investment, Michael Dimelow, commented: “MindTrace represents a landmark opportunity to define the artificial intelligence industry through the development of unsupervised learning.

“Truly unsupervised machine learning has never been achieved and its potential to change society, business and the world is infinite.”

He continued: “This combined with a team of global sector leaders based in Manchester – the original home of computers – is an extraordinary recipe. We’re really excited to support the company’s growth going forward.”

The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund is operated by the British Business Bank

Ken Cooper, the bank’s managing director, said of the deal: “It is good to see ADV, a platform backed by British Business Bank (BBB), and the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund through Mercia working together to back high tech businesses like MindTrace.

“The North plays a vital role in the growth of the UK technology sector, and BBB is committed to providing the right funding to support innovative digital technology businesses which will drive further growth and job creation.”

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