Oriole Networks raises a £10m seed round to build AI data centres out of light.

London, 27th March 2024: Oriole Networks, a new company that revolutionises the performance of AI systems and data centres, has successfully raised £10 million in seed funding. The round was co-led by UCL Technology Fund, Clean Growth Fund, XTX Ventures and Dorilton Ventures, with support from Innovate UK Investor Partnership.

UCL spinout Oriole Networks was created in 2023 by four founders, Professor George Zervas, James Regan, Alessandro Ottino and Joshua Benjamin, with IP licensed through UCL’s technology transfer company UCLB.

UCL scientists George, Alessandro and Joshua had found a way to use light to connect thousands of AI GPUs directly to each other, resulting in much higher performance. James Regan already had a track record of building successful tech companies from university spinouts, having spun out and built EFFECT Photonics.

Data centres have played a critical role in the proliferation of SaaS companies and are also supporting the predicted platform shift towards AI. However, the increasing demands placed on data centres and the approach underlying their networking are leading to systemic problems and unsustainable power consumption. With Oriole’s novel approach, Large Language Models can be trained up to a hundred times faster, whilst consuming only a tiny fraction of the power. As a result, machine learning algorithms can run with a thousandth of the latency, revolutionising time critical tasks such as algorithmic trading, and speeding up AI adoption and AI algorithmic progress.

George Zervas, CTO, said: “AI computational needs are increasing by 10 times every 18 months. This leads to distributed training and inference across large numbers of xPUs. Collective data movement across the servers in the data centre becomes a bottleneck which in turn limits the training and inference completion time. This requires a fundamental shift in the co-design of next generation networked systems.”

James Regan, CEO, added: “As the demand for compute continues to increase, it is critical to find new solutions that can address these challenges in a sustainable and carbon efficient manner. Our novel approach to harness the power of light has already demonstrated significant technical performance improvements, up to 100 times speed up in completion time and 40 times improvements in energy consumption.”

David Grimm, Partner UCL Technology Fund, said: “It’s rare to have such depth of innovation over many years at UCL combined with an experienced entrepreneur with domain knowledge and a massive market that is looking for this solution. This is going to be an exciting journey.”

Daniel Freeman, General Partner at Dorilton Ventures, said: “We invest in companies in the IT infrastructure, data science, and cyber security segments whose products support computationally driven businesses. Over the last decade, compute performance has improved ten times faster than networking performance, so HPC environments are highly network constrained. Oriole’s exciting approach can unlock the latent potential in existing infrastructure.”

Meanwhile, Beverley Gower-Jones OBE, Managing Partner of Clean Growth Fund, emphasised the criticality of sustainable development: “The world’s data centres already consume as much electricity as the whole of the UK, and it is rising rapidly, threatening to consume as much as the whole of Europe unless something is done. This radical approach to Net Zero innovation is exactly what is needed.”



About Oriole Networks

Oriole Networks is a new company that will revolutionise the performance of AI systems and speed up data centres, whilst dramatically reducing energy consumption for a sustainable future.


About UCL Technology Fund

The UCL Technology Fund exists to help solve the world’s most pressing problems: healthy planet, healthy people and healthy work. It helps UCL innovators across the Physical and Life Sciences scale globally. The Fund supports UCL in achieving the full potential of innovations that have prospects for outstanding societal and market impact, right through the development journey from initial proof of concept to practical commercial application. The Fund is managed by AlbionVC in collaboration with UCL Business. For further information please visit: www.ucltf.co.uk .


About XTX Ventures

XTX Ventures is the venture capital arm of leading algorithmic trading firm XTX Markets. XTX Ventures is an early-stage VC fund investing in companies with machine learning as a core technology. This unique focus enables XTX to provide tailored operational support and guidance to its portfolio companies by leveraging XTX Markets’ world-leading expertise in machine learning to help grow and enhance those businesses. XTX can lead or co-invest and have dedicated follow-on capital.

XTX Markets has over 200 employees based in London, Paris, New York, Mumbai, Yerevan and Singapore. XTX provides liquidity across financial markets and trades over $250bn a day. XTX Markets' expansive research cluster contains 100,000 cores and 20,000 A/V100 GPUs, with 390 petabytes of usable storage and 7.5 petabytes of RAM. Alongside rich datasets and advanced technological infrastructure, XTX is at the forefront of the crossover of finance and technology.


About Clean Growth Fund


Clean Growth Fund was launched in May 2020. It is a £101m venture capital fund that is targeting the UK’s most promising early-stage “clean growth” companies that are pioneering carbon emission reductions in the areas of power and energy, buildings, transport, agriculture and waste. Its remit is to drive superior financial returns for investors and accelerate the development and commercialisation of clean growth technologies in the UK – leading to the creation of new and skilled jobs across the country and contributing to the UK’s efforts to deliver net zero by 2050. To date, it has invested in 18 UK companies.

o             Stephen Price, Investment Director: Stephen.price@cleangrowthfund.com

o             Lisa Thornley, Marketing Manager: lisa.thornley@cleangrowthfund.com

o             Paul Taylor, PR, Taylor Keogh Communications: paul@taylorkeogh.com / 07966 782611


About Dorilton Ventures

Dorilton Ventures leads significant minority investments in early- to mid-stage technology companies focused on data-centric segments such as IT infrastructure, data science, and cyber security. For more information, please visit www.doriltongroup.com


About Innovate UK

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is creating a better future by inspiring, involving and investing in businesses developing life-changing innovations. We provide targeted sectors with expertise, facilities and funding to test, demonstrate and evolve their ideas, driving UK productivity and economic growth. Join our network and communities of innovators to realise the potential of your ideas and accelerate business growth. Innovate UK: inspiring business innovation.