|12 October, 2019

Saudi Arabia's KAUST startup UnitX secures $2mln investment

This injection of joint funding will support UnitX in its quest to democratize supercomputing and help enterprises of all sizes leverage technologies

Image used for illustrative purpose

Image used for illustrative purpose

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UnitX, an artificial intelligence (AI) and supercomputing startup spin-out company from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), and a barrier-breaking cloud-based supercomputing provider that helps enterprises deploy AI at scale, has secured $2 million of co-investment from the KAUST Innovation Fund and Saudi Aramco’s Wa’ed Ventures fund.

This injection of joint funding will support UnitX in its quest to democratize supercomputing and help enterprises of all sizes leverage technologies such as high-performance data analytics to make data-driven decisions, reduce IT spending, innovate and become globally competitive.

Successful AI adoption requires scale: The infrastructure to perform both big compute (trillions of calculations per second), and big data (analysis of data in excess of 2 terabytes) tasks. Modern supercomputers are specialized machines that process both tasks efficiently, at much higher speeds compared to public clouds. However, they can cost tens of millions of dollars to own and operate. UnitX democratizes supercomputing via partnerships with institutions that have spare supercomputing capacity and by making it available in an easy-to-use cloud model to its clients in traditionally underserved industry verticals, in Saudi Arabia and beyond.

Tamer Osman, head of the KAUST Innovation Fund, said: “UnitX is bridging a new frontier in advancing big compute power and making it more accessible to sectors that have previously been unable to access the benefits of supercomputing. At KAUST, we are actively investing in startups and technology that are shaping industry 4.0, and UnitX is a deep tech startup at the forefront of this revolution.”

Salman T. Jaffrey, chief investment officer at Wa’ed Ventures and incoming board member on UnitX, praised the efforts and ambition of UnitX’s cofounders — Kiran Narayanan, Ravi Samtaney, Ankita Shree, and Salman Kattan.

“We are thrilled to have led this investment with KAUST, which is testament to our fund’s inimitable approach on fueling the growth of Kingdom-based startups and shared vision of advancing the Saudi venture ecosystem,” Jaffrey said.

According to figures from IDC, the market for supercomputing demand is currently valued at $224 billion with a projected 25 percent year-on-year growth.

UnitX co-founder and CEO Narayanan said: “UnitX is excited to have Aramco’s Wa’ed Ventures and the KAUST Innovation Fund onboard as investors.”

She added: “UnitX is an agile company. We are breaking the barriers of skill and access to supercomputers — which are traditionally expensive beyond the reach of most companies — and partnering with institutions that have unused supercomputing power. We then make this spare capacity available to the companies on our platform in a manner that is easy to use.”

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