LightOn raises funding to build a new computing paradigm for AI

Portfolio20 December 2018

Paris, Dec 19th 2018

LightOn, a Paris-based artificial intelligence company, today announced the closing of $3.3M (€2.9M) in seed funding. Several deep technology focused venture funds, including Quantonation ( ) and Anorak ( ), participate in the round. Dr. Christophe Jurczak, managing partner at Quantonation, will join LightOn’s Board of Directors.

LightOn has developed a new optics-based data processing technology for AI. Leveraging compressive sensing, LightOn’s hardware and software can make Artificial Intelligence computations both simpler and orders of magnitude more efficient. The technology, licensed by PSL Research University, was originally developed at several of Paris’ leading research institutions. For the past few months, LightOn has allowed access to their Optical Processing Units (OPU) to a select group of beta customers through the LightOn Cloud, thanks to a partnership with OVH, Europe’s leading cloud provider. First users from both Academia and Industry have already successfully demonstrated impressive results on this hybrid CPU/GPU/OPU server, outperforming silicon-only computing technology in a variety of large-scale Machine Learning tasks. Typical use cases currently include transfer learning, changepoint detection, or time series prediction.

LightOn’s CEO, Igor Carron, runs the largest European meetup for Artificial Intelligence and his blog Nuit Blanche is considered a reference for researchers around the world.

It’s an exciting time as Artificial Intelligence develops rapidly. The requirements as usage scales necessitate improved power efficiency and performance. LightOn’s technology addresses these monumental challenges.

Igor Carron, LightOn CEO

Igor is joined by 3 co-founders with worldwide academic recognition: Pr. Laurent Daudet, now CTO at LightOn, is expert in signal processing, Pr. Sylvain Gigan, provides the optics expertise, while Pr. Florent Krzakala coordinates the Machine Learning efforts at LightOn.

Dr. Christophe Jurczak further motivates Quantonation’s investment:

We’re very excited at Quantonation to have the opportunity through this investment to support an amazing founding team with extremely impressive academic credentials as well as a deep understanding of the challenges facing current computing paradigms for Machine Learning. We believe that any solution that is not energy efficient will face huge difficulties to scale at some point, and that’s one of LightOn’s key value propositions. Their technology is already available and will for sure be a key enabler present in future HPC devices on premise as well as cloud enabled servers for machine learning.

Christophe Jurczak, Quantonation Managing Partner

This Seed funding will accelerate both core technology development and the LightOn Cloud product, so that the Artificial Intelligence community at large can benefit from LightOn’s optical technology in large scale Machine Learning computations.

Developers interested in testing out the capabilities of the new platform for potential deployment can visit and join the wait list. Current job opportunities can be found at

About LightOn

LightOn ( ) develops a disruptive computing technology for Artificial Intelligence called Optical Processing Unit, or OPU. These optical co-processors designed for large scale Machine Learning applications combine very fast computations and low energy consumption. The OPU technology is now accessible through the LightOn Cloud, a cloud dedicated for businesses and the Machine Learning and AI community who have a need to perform analysis/prediction on very large data.

The team at LightOn is international and brings together a dozen engineers from many different backgrounds in Machine Learning, Optics and Computing, who share the same passion for cutting-edge technology. LightOn is located in the heart of Paris, France.

About Quantonation

Quantonation is an Early Stage Venture Fund dedicated to Deep Physics startups with a focus on the emerging and disruptive fields of Quantum Sensing, Communications and Computing as well as other new computing paradigms. Quantonation is managed by Audacia, private equity investment firm, regulated by French financial markets authority. Quantonation invests worldwide out of Paris and works closely with the startups it invests in, leveraging its partners expertise and network to their benefit. For more information about Quantonation, visit

About Anorak VC

Anorak Ventures is a seed-stage venture capital firm investing in emerging technologies. Based in Silicon Valley, the firm focuses on the areas of virtual & augmented reality, robotics, autonomous vehicles, deep learning and artificial intelligence. These technologies have the potential to shape the next decade and Anorak invests in highly specialized teams that possess the right mix of intellect, experience, leadership and integrity. Anorak is backed by several prominent Silicon Valley investors and technology companies. Further details are available at

Further Reading

The proof of concept of LightOn’s first generation prototype can be found at: Random Projections through multiple optical scattering: Approximating kernels at the speed of light

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