Draper Esprit invests further €10.5m in UK chipmaker

Dublin venture capital company joined Microsoft and BMW in the fundraising round

Dublin and London-listed venture capital company Draper Esprit is among a suite of investors that took part in a $200 million (€176 million) fundraising by UK start-up chipmaker Graphcore.

Draper Esprit announced a further $12 million (€10.5 million) investment in the company on Tuesday as part of Graphcore's series D funding round. Other strategic investors included Microsoft and BMW.

Graphcore has built a new kind of processor and software specifically designed for machine intelligence. The Bristol-headquartered group has raised over $300 million (€264 million) to date. After its latest fundraising round the chipmaker is valued at $1.7 billion (€1.5 billion).

The round was led by UK venture capital firm Atomico, and existing investors Dell and Robert Bosch Venture Capital also participated.

The billion-dollar-plus valuation for the chip company comes at a time when the semiconductor industry is suffering from investor scepticism, but artificial intelligence (AI) is getting increased attention.

Computer algorithms

The UK company’s chips are specifically designed to accelerate machine learning – the process by which predictive computer algorithms improve from digesting large amounts of data. Graphcore designs chips for power-intensive tasks such as AI in cloud computing, enterprise services and automotive systems.

Draper Esprit's strategy is to provide early and growth-stage technology companies with the capital, network, and support they need to pursue their global growth plans. Its investments include online review site Trustpilot, Perkbox, the digital employee engagement platform and Revolut, the London-headquartered fintech company. Draper Esprit has previously backed a number of leading Irish tech companies such as Movidius and Clavis Insight.

"We're thrilled to have been able to support Graphcore from seed stage through to this major new series D growth round," said Draper Esprit chief executive Simon Cook.

“Graphcore is a stellar example of Draper Esprit’s evergreen model, providing capital throughout the growth cycle of some of the most exciting tech companies and helping them grow into world-leading global companies.”

– Additional reporting: Bloomberg

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