UK chipmaker G‎raphcore set for unicorn status


A British chipmaker is about to become the latest UK-based technology start-up to achieve coveted "unicorn" status with a fundraising valuing it at more than $1bn (£790m).

Sky News has learnt that ‎Graphcore is close to finalising a new round of financing to raise roughly £150m from new and existing investors.

People close to the deal said on Wednesday that it would value the company, which specialises in the production of hardware for artificial intelligence (AI) devices, at "north of" $1bn.

They added that it could be announced in the next few days.

The fundraising will make Bristol-based Graphcore the latest British unicorn at a time when the UK tech sector‎ is attracting greater focus from government bodies as part of the industrial strategy.

Its Intelligence Processing Unit (IPU) is said ‎to be among the most advanced in the world.

Graphcore's founders had already enjoyed huge success in the industry by founding, and then selling to Nvidia, a company called Icera, which made chips for mobile devices.

Graphcore last raised money about a year ago when Sequoia Capital, one of the leading investors in Silicon Valley, injected $50m into the business.

The British firm is trying to compete with global giants such as Nvidia and Intel, with huge interest in companies which are at the cutting edge of developing technology for connected devices, self-driving cars and robotics.

Graphcore's other shareholders include funds such as Amadeus Capital Partners and Draper Esprit, while it also has backing from Bosch and Samsung's venture funds.

The identity of the new investors participating in the latest round was unclear on Wednesday.

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Goldman Sachs is advising the British start-up on its latest fundraising.

‎A Graphcore spokeswoman declined to comment.

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