SakanaAI, a Japanese AI startup that includes former Google AI researchers known for developing Transformer and other products, has been selected by the Japanese government to encourage the development of foundational AI models to strengthen the capabilities of Japan's generative AI ecosystem through a supercomputing SakanaAI was selected as one of seven Japanese institutions to receive the grant.
Known as the Generative AI Accelerator Challenge (GENIAC), the grant is sponsored by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) under the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). Since last year, the grant has invited applications for R&D projects that will strengthen Japan’s technological base in the post-5G communication system era, and the seven institutions selected through this grant will have access for several months in 2024 to a supercomputing cluster equipped with the latest GPUs that can train the latest fundamental models. The seven selected institutions will have access to a supercomputing cluster equipped with the latest GPUs that can train the latest fundamental models.
SakanaAI is a new AI research company based in Tokyo, Japan, whose founding team includes Llion Jones, one of the Transformer researchers used in the GPT series and many other AI projects, and David Ha, a collective intelligence researcher with a track record of groundbreaking AI This new company has set the trend in AI development with a track record of groundbreaking developments.
According to SakanaAI's website, the company aims to develop innovative AI that will bring about the next paradigm. The main focus of R&D is a new kind of fundamental model based on intelligence inspired by nature.
The name "Sakana" is derived from the Japanese word "sakana," meaning fish. They want to apply ideas from the natural world, such as evolution and collective intelligence, to their research, and they envision a school of fish coming together and forming a coherent entity from simple rules. The red fish swimming away represents the desire to not only do what others do, but to pursue what they believe is coming next.
Already placed in a seed funding round, the company has raised $30 million in a seed funding round led by Lux Capital with strong backing from Khosla Ventures. The two venture capital firms have a strong history and culture of backing companies focused on long-term R&D, particularly in the field of AI; Lux is known for its early support of companies like Hugging Face and Runway, and Khosla was an early institutional investor in OpenAI. SakanaAI is the first AI startup to be founded in Japan (or possibly almost the first in any industry in Japan) backed by top Silicon Valley VCs in the seed stage.
It also has strong backing from the Japanese tech ecosystem, with investments from NTT Group, KDDI CVC, and Sony Group. It has already announced a research partnership with NTT.