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Microsoft backs generative AI startup Hazy in £7.3m round

Image credit: Hazy

London-based generative AI startup Hazy has scooped $9m (£7.3m) in a Series A funding round that attracted investment from US tech giant Microsoft.

Hazy’s AI creates synthetic data, which is artificial data that replicates the quality of real data but does not include personal information. In addition to privacy benefits, businesses can use synthetic data to create datasets to meet their specific testing requirements.

Large datasets are becoming increasingly sought after in the age of generative AI models like ChatGPT.

Generative AI is a branch of artificial intelligence in which models trained on large volumes of data create new outputs, such as text, video, or images.

Microsoft’s venture capital fund M12 has invested in Hazy since 2018 when the startup won a prize in the tech giant’s AI competition.

“At Hazy we’re developing our product based on this technology and we’re working on an exciting new product initiative that is going to enhance our current offering by harnessing some of the latest developments with large language models,” said Harry Keen, co-founder and CEO of Hazy.

The tech giant earlier this year invested a multi-billion sum into ChatGPT creator OpenAI and has integrated a custom version of the popular large language model into its web browser Bing.

Hazy counts the likes of Vodafone, Accenture and Wells Fargo among its customers. It was founded in 2017 as a spinout from UCL.

Microsoft was joined by lead investor Conviction, UCL Technology Fund, Wells Fargo, Nationwide Building Society, ACT Venture Partners, Terra VC, Evenlode, Logo Ventures, Sarus Ventures and Neva SGR.

David Grimm, investment director at UCL Technology Fund, said: “Generative AI has only recently exploded onto everyone’s radar, but Hazy has been pioneering the use of this type of AI to keep personal data safe for some time now.”

Hazy said it will use the Series A funds to fuel its growth in the UK, US and Europe.

Microsoft recently partnered with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to boost digital skills in the area.

Read more: The UK’s answer to ChatGPT? 4 British generative AI startups to watch.