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Oxford optical computing startup Lumai awarded £1.1m grant

Image credit: Lumai

Oxford-based startup Lumai has been awarded a £1.1m grant from Innovate UK for its optical computing technology.

Optical computers use light waves to perform computations, whereas traditional computers use electricity.

Lumai is developing “all-optical neural networks” that it says can be “1000x faster” compared to conventional transistor electronics. The University of Oxford spinout plans to use this approach for “next-generation” artificial intelligence (AI).

“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,” said Tim Weil, CEO, Lumai.

Lumai, which launched in January 2022, will use the Innovate UK grant to produce optical computing processors and optical neural networks that do not require “electronic processing”.

Professor Alex Lvovsky, co-founder of Lumai, said: “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.”

The grant, which was first reported by Sifted, comes after the startup received £1.75m in January last year from IP Group plc and Luxembourg-headquartered venture capital firm Runa Capital.

Innovate UK is the country’s innovation agency and a division of UKRI, a government public body which issues research and innovation funding.