Oriole raises £10M Seed to reduce AI's colossal carbon footprint

Oriole's technology provides an alternative to the reliance on ethernet that hampers AI efficiency.
Oriole raises £10M Seed to reduce AI's colossal carbon footprint

UCL spinout Oriole Networks, whose technology hopes to reduce the amount of energy needed to run AI data centres, has raised £10M — one of the largest seed rounds in recent years.

The round was co-led by UCL Technology Fund, Clean Growth Fund, XTX Ventures and Dorilton Ventures.

CEO James Regan told Tech.eu that the funding allows the team to focus fully on developing its technology. Oriole’s tech connects the networks of GPUs that run LLMS by using light beams instead of ethernet cables, which they hope will increase the speed of information transfer in data centres by a hundred times. As for where Oriole's at with product development, he says that “each technology element has been proven individually and the full network simulated” with deployment in centres forecasted to be several years down the line. 

Regan has a track record of building successful tech companies from university spinouts — he previously spun out EFFECT Photonics, later valued at half a billion dollars. The team of scientists behind the project consists of Professor George Zervas, Alessandro Ottino and Joshua Benjamin with the GPU connections reliant primarily on research by Zervas.

Soaring demand for AI has led to a rapid increase in the use and construction of high-emission data centres, so much so that many large corporations go to extreme lengths to obscure their energy usage. At present, data centres account for close to 3% of EU electricity demand and the European Commission expects that to rise by at least 28% before 2030. In the US, centres’ energy usage will double between 2022 and 2030.

Daniel Freeman, General Partner at Dorilton Ventures, commented on the raise:

“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.” 

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