German AI start-up announces $500 million in new investment
German artificial intelligence start-up Aleph Alpha received more than $500 million in new investments as part of the start-up’s second round of fundraising, the company announced on Monday.
Aleph Alpha develops large language models with AI functions, similar to US-based start-up OpenAI’s ChatGPT.
However, the Heidelberg-based Aleph Alpha is aiming to develop AI programmes specifically for use in government administration and industry.
With the fresh money from investors, Aleph Alpha executives said that the firm will be able to compete with OpenAI as well as large corporations such as Microsoft and Google.
“With this latest investment, we will further expand our capabilities and enable our partners to be at the forefront of this technological development,” said Jonas Andrulis, founder and chief executive of Aleph Alpha.
Aleph Alpha is increasingly viewed as a flagship start-up in Germany, which has sought to cultivate more tech companies in recent years.
Among the leading investors in the Heidelberg-based firm were venture capital group Innovation Park Intelligence (IPAI), engineering giant Bosch Group and the retail and IT firm Schwarz Group, which owns the grocery chains Lidl and Kaufland.
German software giant SAP and Berlin-based investment group Christ&Company were also involved in the financing round.
A significant proportion of the investment will be provided in the form of a capital commitment from IPAI, a project of the Dieter Schwarz Foundation, which aims to establish Europe’s largest research centre for artificial intelligence in the south-western German city of Heilbronn, where the Schwarz Group is headquartered.
German Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck attended the company’s fundraising announcement in Berlin on Monday and called the start-up an “incredible success story.”
Founded in 2019, the company claimed a milestone breakthrough last spring in its efforts to develop accurate and trustworthy AI programmes.
The company said its in-house Luminous AI language model, for example, forms the backbone of the citizen information system in the south-western German city of Heidelberg.
Andrulis, the company founder, urged political leaders not to be too strict with expected upcoming regulations for AI: “We also need a few more players, not just referees,” he said on Monday.
Habeck also said that discussion around AI regulation has focused too much on the risks of the technology and not enough on the possibilities it presents.
Europe needs to “really step on the gas” in order not to be left behind internationally, Habeck said.
He said that AI technology could help enhance European and German industrial leadership in sectors including mechanical engineering, robotics and telecommunications.