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Intel leads $15M investment in Chronocam

25 Oct 2016

French developer of animal-inspired approach to machine vision says series B venture round will support US and Asia expansion.

Chronocam, the Paris-based start-up company working on a new approach to machine vision, has attracted $15 million investment in a series B venture round led by Intel Capital.

News of the investment comes just two weeks after the French firm won €5000 in a pitch competition at the Inpho Venture Summit in Bordeaux. The new cash will be used to extend Chromocam’s reach into Asia and the US, and to accelerate product development and commercialization.

Not just Intel
Aside from Intel Capital, the $15 million round was supported by iBionext – a new venture capital fund also based in Paris that is focused on disruptive healthcare technologies – as well as Robert Bosch, 360 Capital, CEAi, and Renault Group.

Unlike existing machine vision technology, the Chronocam approach looks to mimic the way that animals, including humans, process visual information, by focusing on the elements within the visual field that change in some way.

This should dramatically reduce the amount of computation needed, compared with processing all of the information collected from the entire field of view at high frame rates, which is how machine vision normally works.

Chronocam CEO and co-founder Luca Verre said: “Conventional computer vision approaches are not well-suited to the requirements of a new generation of vision-enabled systems.

“For example, autonomous vehicles require faster sensing systems which can operate in a wider variety of ambient conditions. In the IoT [Internet of Things] segment, power budgets, bandwidth requirements and integration within sensor networks make today’s vision technologies impractical and ineffective.”

Disruptive potential
Intel Capital revealed its support for the Parisian company during its annual global summit, where the semiconductor chip maker announced a total $38 million investment in 12 different startups.

Alongside the Chromocam deal, Intel said that it was also backing two other firms in what it defined as the “autonomous machines” sector: the other two being California-based robotics firm Embodied; and Virginia-headquartered software company Perrone Robotics.

Intel Capital president Wendell Brooks said: “The world is becoming increasingly connected and intelligent. And computer vision is a key enabler of this trend, particularly for the automotive industry and Internet of Things…we look forward to helping Chronocam bring the next generation of smart machine vision systems to market.”

Alexia Perouse, the CEO at iBionext, added: “We have been looking very closely at the development of [Chronocam] and were convinced about its potential for market disruption from the beginning.”

The fund has been involved with the start-up since its inception two years ago, with Perouse saying: “We are excited to witness the progress [since then] and to invest massively in this new phase of growth.”

iBionext is targeting a total fund size of €100 million, and last month said that it had reached €46 million so far, thanks partly to support from the state-backed Bpifrance investment bank.

The new venture fund has already backed seven companies, including retinal implant developer Pixium Vision, and the optogenetics firm GenSight Biologics.

Universe Kogaku America Inc.LASEROPTIK GmbHABTechECOPTIKHyperion OpticsCHROMA TECHNOLOGY CORP.Optikos Corporation
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