UK-based Deep Render, a machine learning startup, has secured 1.6 million pounds in funding. Pentech led the round with participation from Speedinvest.
LONDON 7 May: Deep Render – London’s pioneering machine learning startup – has raised £1.6 million, led by Pentech with participation from Speedinvest, to fund further development of its revolutionary image compression technology.
Instead of building on the current, decades-old software that is no longer fit for purpose, Deep Render’s proprietary tech has reinvented the entire process, from scratch, in order to mimic the neural processes of the human eye. This reduces the file size of images by 10x compared to the best industry standards, while maintaining the same level of visual quality.
Having spun out of Imperial College London’s leading robotics lab, Deep Render’s founders Arsalan Zafar and Chri Besenbruch believe their technology not only has the power to transform how everyday people consume data – an issue that has been highlighted in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak – but it will revolutionise entire industries and organisations across every sector.
Solving the data crisis
We’re facing a data crisis. Every two years, the global demand for data doubles and 90% of the total data created by humanity was generated in the past two years. As a result, the entire digital universe in 2020 is set to reach an almost incomprehensible 44 zettabytes.
Today’s media compression is buckling under this weight. A fact being acutely felt in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic in which an increase of people working from home has put added demand on streaming sites like Netflix, YouTube and Zoom. These companies have been forced to downgrade the resolution and quality of their services – something that wouldn’t have been necessary if they were using Deep Render’s algorithm.
This issue largely stems from the fact compression infrastructure is wildly out of date and highly inefficient; based on 1970s technology. This technology has been built on and improved in recent decades but the gains are becoming smaller with each iterative update.
To solve this, Deep Render has built a new domain called Biological Compression technology. Whereas current compression software relies on linear, disconnected modules, Deep Render’s AI-powered technology uses a proprietary non-linear context-aware algorithm. This makes Deep Render’s technology more efficient because it trains the entire algorithm and its modules in parallel, meaning each of the stages work in harmony to achieve the same end-goal.
Deep Render’s algorithm additionally pays special attention to the content of the image, which the human eye cares about the most, allowing for more visually pleasing images.
“As humans, our eyes have evolved to care about certain colours and properties of the natural world. It helped us survive as hunters and gathers. We are more sensitive to the colour green as it represents fertile areas with food and water; we notice the slightest of movements in still scenes, as this helps us flee from sneaking predators. Accounting for these evolutionary instincts improves visual quality but teaching a machine to do so has been incredibly complex until now. Our technological breakthrough represents the foundation for a new class of compression methods,” explained Arsalan Zafar
“We’re not trying to make the original software better, but replace it. Effectively, we are burning the existing compression technology to the ground; rewriting, redefining and reinventing the entire domain,” said Chri Besenbrush. “Unless we get ahead of this data crisis, the free and open internet as we know it is at risk. Entire industries will struggle and infrastructure will buckle. Image compression may seem far away to most people but it underpins everything we do from playing games and watching movies to satellite imagery and how entire healthcare systems diagnose disease and save lives.”
The most apparent beneficiaries of this breakthrough are content platforms and their consumers, such as Netflix, Facebook, Google, Instagram, Amazon, Baidu, Tencent and more. Other beneficiaries include technologies/businesses involved in VR-streaming, AR-streaming, cloud-gaming, holograms, medical imaging, emerging-market video streaming and others. More niche use-cases include satellite imaging, the CCTV market, remote drone-flying, and national defence forces.
“Image compression is at the heart of almost everything we do online, at home and in business, yet we’re stuck using ill-equipped and antiquated algorithms that won’t, and can’t, meet future needs,” said Eddie Anderson, founding partner at Pentech.
“We’re delighted to announce our partnership with Arsalan, Chri and their super-talented team as they solve one of the most pressing problems when it comes to the storage, use and sharing of visual data,” said Marcel van der Heijden, partner at SpeedInvest.
Deep Render plans to use its funding to further develop its product and to hire new talent.
One zettabyte is 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes.
As part of a large-scale study involving 5,000 participants, Deep Render’s technology was compared to the best market standards for image and video compression. When asked to compare perceptual quality, over 95% of participants rated Deep Render’s images more visually pleasing, despite its images being half the file size.
Pentech Ventures are leading early stage software investors looking for opportunities to build breakout companies in emerging market spaces, with particular focus on AI and ML. Founded in 2001, the firm has raised over £150m across three funds and has a long track record of guiding small founding teams from pre-launch to international scale. Pentech’s four partners are ex-operators with deep tech backgrounds and an immersive understanding of the businesses they invest in. With a UK outlook and hubs in London and Edinburgh, the team’s investments include Acunu (Apple), FanDuel, Maxymiser (Oracle), Nutmeg, Outplay and Semetric (Apple). The companies Pentech has backed have between them created over 2,500 new jobs.
Speedinvest is a European venture capital fund with €400M+ AUM and more than 40 investment professionals working from Berlin, London, Munich, Paris, Vienna and San Francisco. Employing a sector-focused investment structure, we fund innovative early-stage technology startups in the areas of Fintech, Digital Health, Consumer Tech, Network Effects, Deep Tech and Industrial Tech. Speedinvest actively deploys its global network and dedicated team of more than 20, in-house operational experts to support our 140+ portfolio companies, including with US market expansion. Learn more: www.speedinvest.com