Oxford semiconductor firm Salience Labs raises £9.4m amid chip shortage

Salience Labs

Oxford-based semiconductor company Salience Labs has raised $11.5m (£9.4m) in a seed round to develop a new high-speed multi-chip processor to accelerate advances in AI.

The funding round was led by Cambridge Innovation Capital and Oxford University’s venture capital partner Oxford Science Enterprises.

Other participants include Oxford Information Consultants, ex-Dialog Semiconductor CEO Jalal Bagherli, Silicon Catalyst, the Goh Family Office and Deeptech Labs.

The company’s funding comes as the world continues to go through a global chip shortage caused in part by the Covid-19 pandemic and international trade issues.

Formed as a joint spinout from the University of Oxford and the University of Münster in 2021, Salience Labs is developing technology aimed at keeping pace with the rapid advances in AI.

“The world needs ever-faster chips to grow AI capability, but the semiconductor industry cannot keep pace with this demand,” said Salience Labs co-founder and CEO Vaysh Kewada.

“We’re solving this with our proprietary ‘on-memory compute’ architecture which combines the ultra-fast speed of photonics, the flexibility of electronics and the manufacturability of CMOS. This will usher in a new era of processing, where supercomputer AI becomes ubiquitous.”

Ian Lane, partner at Cambridge Innovation Capital, said: “Salience Labs brings together deep domain expertise in photonics, electronics, and CMOS manufacture.

“Their unique approach to photonics delivers an exceedingly dense computing chip without having to scale the photonics chip to large sizes.”

Cambridge Innovation Capital recently launched a £225m fund to invest in deeptech startups operating sectors including chip design and AI.

Oxford Science Enterprises partner Alexis Zervoglos said: “Salience Labs offers a pioneering yet pragmatic solution to the widening gap between AI processing demand and semiconductor industry supply.

“By leveraging photonics in a novel way, Salience Labs is set to make unprecedented advances in computing, transforming existing AI applications and opening up new addressable horizons.”