There’s something going on with AI startups in France

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Final night time, Motier Ventures held a tech meetup centered on AI startups that includes among the most hyped tech startups within the French tech ecosystem: Mud, Finegrain, Gladia, Mistral AI and State of affairs — all of them are portfolio corporations of Motier Ventures. And you could possibly really feel a way of pleasure each onstage and within the viewers.

Synthetic intelligence, similar to within the U.S., has rapidly turn into a buzzy vertical inside the French tech business. However this time, France appears notably effectively positioned to turn into one of many foremost AI hubs of the world.

And it shouldn’t come as a shock. Tech giants have traditionally arrange AI analysis labs in Paris, as there’s a big expertise pool of PhD college students in math, laptop science and engineering. They normally graduate from Polytechnique, ENS or Inria. They often transfer to the U.S. for postdoctoral analysis after which transfer again to France to hitch a analysis lab.

As an illustration, Fb (now Meta) created its Paris analysis lab again in 2015 with Yann LeCun on the helm of the AI initiative — this analysis group is named FAIR, for Fb Synthetic Intelligence Analysis. Google adopted swimsuit with its personal AI analysis heart devoted to AI in Paris.

“The FAIR group is extraordinarily spectacular. Simply have a look at what they’ve performed with Llama,” an entrepreneur advised me yesterday. He not too long ago had a personal assembly with among the engineers and scientists engaged on AI initiatives.

And when you have a look at the founders of Mistral AI, the French AI startup engaged on open supply giant language fashions that raised a €105 million seed spherical ($112 million at immediately’s change charge), all three co-founders (Arthur Mensch, Timothée Lacroix and Guillaume Lample) beforehand labored at Google’s DeepMind or FAIR.

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Final night time, Mistral’s co-founders put collectively a demo of Mistral AI in a ChatGPT-like interface referred to as Mistral AI Chat. The demo was primarily based on a brand new mannequin referred to as “mistral-70b-instruct-alpha01,” indicating that the group is actively engaged on a brand new mannequin with extra parameters in order that it may be extra aggressive with subtle LLMs. In keeping with a current report from The Information, Mistral AI plans to boost as a lot as $300 million within the coming weeks.

Mistral isn’t the one high-profile AI firm in France. Poolside, an organization that not too long ago raised a $126 million seed round, plans to make use of AI to make it drastically simpler to jot down code. Co-founded by Jason Warner, the previous CTO of GitHub, and Eiso Kant, a serial entrepreneur who labored on Athenian and supply{d}, the corporate has picked Paris as its residence base.

Dust, an organization that’s engaged on integrating giant language fashions with inner company information from GitHub, Notion or Slack, additionally took the stage for a demo final night time. At Mud’s workplace warming get together, I spotted that Mud shares its lovely workplace constructing with Nabla, one other French AI startup centered on serving to medical doctors leverage giant language fashions and co-founded by former FAIR engineers. This proves as soon as once more that an AI ecosystem is rising.

The founders of Mistral AI and Mud needed to go away the meetup rapidly after their demos as they had been each invited for dinner on the Elysée Palace, the residence of Emmanuel Macron. So there’s additionally some public help for AI startups in France. An entrepreneur not too long ago advised me that a number of AI startups are working collectively on public tenders for presidency grants value tens of millions of euros as a part of France 2030.

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One factor which may differentiate European AI startups from AI giants like OpenAI and Anthropic is that they’re eager about regulation and compliance from day one. An attention-grabbing French AI startup on this discipline is Giskard, which is creating an open supply testing framework, or “the perfect LLM antivirus available in the market,” as Giskard co-founder and CEO Alex Combessie advised me. I’ll have extra to jot down about Giskard within the coming days.

And one other wave of stealth AI startups

Earlier this week, The Info reported that Adaptive, an AI startup primarily based in Amsterdam and co-founded by French AI researcher Julien Launay, was about to boost a seed round at a $100 million valuation. Adaptive helps corporations iterate on their AI purposes with out counting on exterior information or annotations.

A supply confirmed that Index Ventures is main the Adaptive spherical, with Iconiq and Motier Ventures collaborating.

One other supply advised me that Wiem Gharbi can be elevating a seed spherical with Index Ventures for an AI startup with a group cut up between Paris and London.

Picture Credit: Motier Ventures

In different information, I’ve heard that Steeve Morin, a key member of the group behind Zenly, a preferred client app that was acquired by Snap, can be creating an AI startup referred to as ZML. The group will concentrate on enhancing machine studying inference and different low-level instruments.

Maxime Germain, the founding father of psychological well being startup Jour, which was acquired by Alan, is leaving Alan to begin Heart Hands, an AI startup that’s creating a “second mind in your pocket,” as an investor described it to me.

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Pierre Valade, the founding father of Dawn and Jumbo, is placing collectively a group for an AI startup presently referred to as Chief of Workers. Hugo Mercier is engaged on an AI startup in stealth mode as effectively.

I believe it’s secure to name this new wave of startups a development. Whereas the general tech ecosystem remains to be experiencing a downturn, there’s an absurd quantity of exercise amongst French startups on the early stage with new AI startups getting based at a fast tempo and VC corporations preventing for essentially the most aggressive funding rounds.

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