UniServices, which owns 15% of the company, made the investment through its $20m University of Auckland Inventors Fund.Soul Machines was spun out of the University of Auckland in July 2016 with a Series A investment round by some of the world’s leading AI investors.
The University of Auckland Inventors Fund was formed in 2016, with capital provided from UniServices’ retained earnings from its commercialisation business. Designed to fill a gap in the market for very early-stage capital in deep-tech IP based businesses, and to foster academic and student entrepreneurship, the Fund is typically the first investor in University-derived start-ups. It syndicates with local and global investors, including Horizon Ventures, Brandon Capital and the IP Group, that collectively have over $1bn of capital.
The Fund is designed to create more “stickiness” of start-ups to the local economy and ecosystem and to develop more home-grown entrepreneurial, product development, start-up management and start-up governance talent.
“Soul Machines is exactly the kind of company that the Inventors Fund is designed to support. It has world leading, deeply transformative IP, with a long term vision that will require patient capital to, potentially, deliver superior returns in the long run. The Inventors Fund demonstrates that the University of Auckland is prepared to back its own technology,” Andy Shenk, CEO of UniServices.
Greg Cross, Chief Business Officer of Soul Machines, commented it’s great to have UniServices continuing to support the company alongside Mercedes Benz and Horizons Ventures. “New Zealand needs more technology companies based on deep research and Intellectual Property. The University of Auckland and UniServices are making a massive contribution to developing the ecosystem required to create more companies like us.”