UCL spinout secures major investment to revolutionise how businesses use generative AI
9 May 2023
Hazy, the UCL spinout on a mission to set data free for businesses, without compromising individuals’ privacy, has raised £7.3 million to strengthen its position as a leading player in the synthetic AI industry.
Hazy’s technology generates synthetic (artificial) data, which replicates real data but doesn’t include any personal information. Data has never been more valuable to businesses in the age of generative AI models like ChatGPT and the ability to generate large synthetic datasets is increasingly sought after. However, tighter privacy laws and regulations mean that most of the world’s data is locked away and unusable. Hazy makes it possible for businesses to harness their synthetic data to test new products and technologies, without privacy restrictions slowing down innovation.
The funding boost will allow the team behind Hazy to accelerate their vision of becoming a global leader and revolutionise the way businesses work with their most sensitive data.
Hazy was founded in 2017 as a spinout from UCL by two experienced software entrepreneurs who collaborated with UCL researchers to develop their early ideas for a business. CTO James Arthur is a software developer and was previously CTO and co-founder of furniture company Opendesk. CEO Harry Keen is an engineer and developer who studied machine learning at Stanford.
The founders were united by a single issue in their enterprising journey – the fact that data anonymisation wasn’t being addressed by computers. To provide a solution, they created Hazy, smart software that automates the anonymisation of data, enabling developers and data scientists to share information securely.
Supported by UCL Business (UCLB), the university’s commercialisation company, Hazy’s meteoric rise began with winning the $1 million (£802,000) Microsoft Innovate AI prize in 2018 for the best AI startup in Europe and has gone from strength to strength since.
Harry Keen, Co-Founder and CEO, Hazy said: “The response from businesses to the capabilities of synthetic data has been huge. Enabling our customers to access and actually use their data unlocks real commercial value. We’re excited to be right at the forefront of the synthetic data revolution.”
The latest funding round was led by Conviction VC, a privately backed multi-stage investor, and included investment from Microsoft. The round also attracted investment from strategic investors including Wells Fargo, Nationwide Building Society, ACT Venture Partners, Terra VC and Neva SGR, the Intesa Sanpaolo bank venture capital company.
David Grimm, Investment Director at UCL Technology Fund, who invested in Hazy in their 2017 seed round said: “Generative AI has only recently exploded onto everyone’s radar, but Hazy has been pioneering the use of this type of AI to keep personal data safe for some time now. This raise enables them to scale the great traction they have developed, and we are delighted to continue to support them on their journey.”
Hazy is fast becoming a leading player in the industry and the new investment will allow them to accelerate their vision to become the global synthetic data leader and revolutionise the way enterprises work with their most sensitive data.
UCL Vice-Provost, Research, Innovation & Global Engagement, Professor Geraint Rees said: “Congratulations to the Hazy team, who are pioneering ground-breaking AI research, and turning it into products that have major commercial and societal benefits. The support that UCL has given Hazy reflects the important role universities play in bringing to market high potential companies who can fast-track innovation.”
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