The European rival of OpenAI receives major financing
Aleph Alpha GmbH, a startup in artificial intelligence that aims to establish a European competitor to the large language models developed by OpenAI and Google, secured over $500 million from a group of industrial giants and financial investors. Schwarz Group, the venture arm of Robert Bosch GmbH, SAP SE, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and seven new investors participated in this funding round.
Positioning itself as a local European champion in technology, Aleph Alpha aims to differentiate itself from its US-based competitors. Germany’s Vice Chancellor and Minister for Economic Affairs, Robert Habeck, praised the investment as a strategic national priority, highlighting the importance of European sovereignty in the AI sector.
In its pursuit of large language model technology like ChatGPT, Aleph Alpha focuses on applications tailored for European enterprises, particularly in areas like security and data privacy. The company was established in Heidelberg, Germany, by Jonas Andrulis, a former engineer at SAP and Apple, Inc.
Amidst a landscape where technology heavily relies on expensive computing power, Aleph Alpha’s previous fundraising round of €23 million in 2021 pales in comparison to the significant investments made by its competitors. For instance, Anthropic, a US startup with similar safety features, is in talks to secure up to $2 billion following a $4 billion investment from Amazon.com, Inc.
While Anthropic, OpenAI, and Google have expanded their generative AI offerings in the US and Europe, a French startup, Mistral, emerged in 2023, raising $113 million in its initial financing round. Similar to Aleph Alpha, Mistral positions itself as a European alternative to Silicon Valley.
During the early 2000s, the EU faced a pivotal moment when the internet technology boom led to the emergence of numerous major American conglomerates while Europe saw almost none. In the years following, European companies have struggled to reach the scale of giants such as Apple, Alphabet, or Amazon, and have found it challenging to rival the scale of Chinese counterparts like Alibaba. Now EU policymakers are very concerned that the next technological revolution – in artificial intelligence and quantum computing – will similarly pass Europe by.