The Heidelberg AI startup Aleph Alpha urgently needs money to be able to score internationally. Funding could be secured soon.
Aleph Alpha is one of the great hopes in the German tech scene. The currently 50-strong team at the startup for artificial intelligence (AI) from Heidelberg has developed its own language model, like OpenAI, which has become famous through ChatGPT, and is benefiting from the boom in rapidly developing AI applications.
Aleph Alpha has thus attracted the interest of international investors. This could soon be followed by a tangible investment, according to a current report in the Handelsblatt: According to this, the investment arm of the Intel chip group wants to take a stake in the company. Intel Capital will be the lead investor in the current Series B financing round in the company founded by Jonas Andrulis. When asked by the start-up scene, Aleph Alpha does not want to comment on the report. Intel Capital could not be reached for comment prior to publication.
Previously rumors about SAP entry
It’s not the first time there have been rumors of an industrial giant joining Aleph Alpha. Recently, for example, SAP was said to be interested in participating. When asked by the Gründerszene, founder Jonas Andrulis did not want to comment on this – if the latest report comes true, a commitment by SAP to the AI startup should probably be off the table for the time being. A few days ago, SAP also announced that it would be working with Microsoft in this area in the future, and thus indirectly with Aleph Alpha’s competitor Open AI.
Aleph Alpha wants to make a name for itself in the very tough and still growing competition by focusing on transparency with its “Luminous” language model: In the future, users should be able to understand exactly where the AI gets its information from. In order to do this, the company needs more capital. In contrast to the big international players, the startup founded by the business IT specialist Jonas Andrulis has so far been equipped with a very modest 28 million euros.
Valuation up to half a billion dollars
In order to remain competitive, a multiple of that is necessary. According to the report, Aleph Alpha wants to collect around 100 million euros in the current financing round. The company valuation should be between 450 and 500 million euros after the round. This would make Aleph Alpha the second most valuable German AI startup after the translation tool DeepL from Cologne, which is one of the German startup unicorns with a valuation of more than one billion dollars.
Aleph Alpha last attracted attention when its own AI language model Luminous performed similarly well in a standardized performance comparison as the previously leading AI specialist OpenAI or the model from the Facebook group Meta. As part of the scientific comparison, the intelligent systems had to solve tasks for classifying, evaluating and creating texts, as well as answering questions about specific text content.
Focus on industrial applications
In the spring, Aleph Alpha and the IT service provider Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) presented a jointly developed virtual assistant for industrial production. The cooperation partners advertise that the AI assistant acts like a highly specialized service technician who supports the factory staff in solving very complex tasks.
When communicating with the machine, the factory staff does not have to stick to a predetermined system or only use certain key terms, but can speak to the system quite naturally. The AI assistant also responds in natural language. The exchange can not only take place with spoken text, but also with pictures. For example, a specialist could photograph the standing position of the robot and ask whether this position is safe. Aleph Alpha and HPE have been cooperating since 2019, and the startup developed its AI on a supercomputer from the IT service provider.