Sakana AI, a Tokyo-based AI research company, proudly announced a successful seed funding round raising $30 million. Spearheading the initiative are Lux Capital and Khosla Ventures, both renowned for their commitment to long-term R&D-focused companies, particularly in the field of Artificial Intelligence. Notably, this marks a significant milestone as Sakana AI becomes the first AI startup in Japan, backed by top Silicon Valley venture capital firms at the seed stage.
The funding round also saw substantial contributions from prominent entities within the Japanese tech ecosystem, including NTT Group, KDDI CVC, and Sony Group. A research partnership with NTT has already been unveiled, showcasing the strong backing from the local industry.
Sakana AI, founded by a team with proven expertise from Google Brain, Goldman Sachs, and other AI startups, is dedicated to developing transformative AI with a unique emphasis on foundation models inspired by nature. The name “Sakana,” derived from the Japanese word for fish (さかな), symbolizes the company’s vision of creating a cohesive entity, drawing inspiration from nature’s principles such as evolution and collective intelligence.
Lux Capital Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Josh Wolfe, expressed enthusiasm for Sakana AI’s innovative approach, stating, “Sakana AI being based in Japan with a first focus on Asian markets is unique and important. Lux is very bullish on Japan having one of the largest economies, a giant enterprise software market, and a tech-forward culture.”
Vinod Khosla, Founder of Khosla Ventures, emphasized the importance of nations having their own foundational models for national security and cultural resonance, stating, “Most sovereign nations will want their own native foundational models, both for national security reasons and to better interact with regional dialects, cultures, and values. Sakana AI is poised to leverage regional talent to harness the potential that this talent has.”
The support extends beyond venture capital firms, with notable angel investors such as Jeff Dean, Clem Delangue (Hugging Face), and Alex Wang (Scale AI) contributing to the cause.
Tony Wang, Managing Partner at 500 Global, commended Sakana AI’s global mindset and ability to attract top AI talent worldwide. “We believe Sakana AI has the opportunity to create a massive impact on the market as we enter this first phase of the AI technology shift, and we’re proud to support their growth,” Wang stated.
With this substantial funding injection, Sakana AI aims to expedite its global expansion and advance its research initiatives. The company’s commitment to nature-inspired intelligence positions it as a trailblazer in the evolving landscape of AI technology.