According to a media report, well-known Silicon Valley investors Lightspeed and Accel want to invest in the Munich-based military AI startup.

The Munich-based unicorn builds software designed to support soldiers in combat – whether on land, in the air or on water.

Helsing has tripled its own valuation within a year: As the Financial Times reports, the founders of the Munich-based AI defense tech startup Helsing are in negotiations with well-known investors such as Accel and Lightspeed Venture Partners from Silicon Valley. According to the FT, they want to invest half a billion dollars in Helsing to get a new stake in Helsing – based on a valuation of 4.5 billion dollars (about 4.2 billion euros). This would make Helsing the most expensive military startup in Europe. And not only that: Helsing would be one of the most valuable European start-ups ever; Mistral was most recently valued at six billion euros.

Only in September 2023, Helsing had reached a value of 1.7 billion euros after a Series B financing round of 209 million euros, making it the first European unicorn in the military, armaments and defense sector. This was preceded by a Series A financing in November 2021 of 103 million euros led by Prima Materia, the investment company founded by Spotify founder Daniel Ek.

Read also

Armament and “turning point”: What is changing for defense tech startups now – and what is not

Investors from industry and VC scene

The Swedish aircraft and defense company Saab is also involved in Helsing as a strategic investor, as are the US venture capital firm General Catalyst and the Berlin-based VC La Famiglia, which is now part of General Catalyst. La Famiglia co-founder Jeannette zu Fürstenberg had previously been involved in Helsing privately.

For Accel, a former Facebook and Spotify investor, the deal would be the first in the field of defense and military tech. And yet the move would not be surprising: Investors' interest in startups in this field has increased, of course due to crises and wars in Ukraine and Israel, for example. The “turning point” – initiated by the Russian attack on Ukraine – is also a turning point in spending money on defense. Compared to the previous year, the defense budget in Germany for 2024 has increased by 1.83 billion euros. In total, the Bundeswehr now has 71.75 billion euros at its disposal. And private investors, VCs, are also partially changing their attitude towards “dual use” or “defense”. Other German defense startups have already benefited from this, such as Quantum Systems, Hattec and Arx Landsysteme.

Read also

Defense-tech startups work with the Bundeswehr.

These are the 7 most important defense tech startups from Germany

AI evaluates battlefield data

What Helsing does can be used widely in the military sector: The startup, founded in 2021, is developing an AI for various military equipment – for tanks, submarines, jets. This AI can quickly evaluate huge amounts of data generated by sensors and weapon systems. It provides soldiers with real-time combat zone information so that they can make better decisions.

Helsing could also upgrade existing weapon systems with its software, the company says. In other words: make them more precise and faster. And Helsing is already doing that: in June 2023, two years after its founding, the startup received an order from the German government to “enable the Eurofighter for electronic warfare,” as the company said in a statement. In August 2023, the order to supply the AI ​​infrastructure for the new European fighter generation, Future Combat Air System (FCAS), followed.

At the beginning of June 2024, the Munich-based company, which is exceptionally secretive about public relations, announced that it was working on a project with AI-controlled, autonomous air combat systems. Two days later, it announced a cooperation with Airbus.
In addition, the Helsing software is already in actual use on the front lines. Since 2022, the startup has been “providing capabilities and technology for front-line operations. In this context, Helsing personnel are continuously stationed in Ukraine,” it says.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *