PRESS: UniServices invests US$2m into its world leading AI company Soul Machines

Auckland, New Zealand | October 29, 2018

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UniServices has followed Mercedes Benz’s investment into Soul Machines with its own commitment of US$2m to a US$15m+ funding round announced recently by the company.  UniServices, which owns 15% of the company, made the investment through its $20m University of Auckland Inventors Fund.  Soul Machines was spun out of the University of Auckland in July 2016 with a Series A investment round by some of the world’s leading AI investors. 

The University of Auckland Inventors Fund was formed in 2016, with capital provided from UniServices’ retained earnings from its commercialisation business.  Designed to fill a gap in the market for very early-stage capital in deep-tech IP based businesses, and to foster academic  and student entrepreneurship, the Fund is typically the first investor in University-derived start-ups. It syndicates with local and global investors, including Horizon Ventures, Brandon Capital and the IP Group, that collectively have over $1bn of capital.  

The Fund is designed to create more “stickiness” of start-ups to the local economy and ecosystem and to develop more home-grown entrepreneurial, product development, start-up management and start-up governance talent.  

Soul Machines is exactly the kind of company that the Inventors Fund is designed to support. It has world leading, deeply transformative IP, with a long term vision that will require patient capital to, potentially, deliver superior returns in the long run. The Inventors Fund demonstrates that the University of Auckland is prepared to back its own technology,” Andy Shenk, CEO of UniServices. 

Greg Cross, Chief Business Officer of Soul Machines, commented it’s great to have UniServices continuing to support the company alongside Mercedes Benz and Horizons Ventures. “New Zealand needs more technology companies based on deep research and Intellectual Property. The University of Auckland and UniServices are making a massive contribution to developing the ecosystem required to create more companies like us.”


About the University of Auckland 

The University supports economic growth locally and nationally through innovation and entrepreneurship, creating quality jobs and high-value businesses, producing graduates that contribute to and strengthen our economy and society, to the benefit of all.  The University of Auckland is New Zealand’s world-ranked university. It is the leading New Zealand university in the QS World University Rankings 2019 and the highest ranked New Zealand university in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. 

About Auckland UniServices Limited 

At UniServices, we bring ideas to life. We partner with the best minds at the University of Auckland to apply intelligent thinking to ideas that have the potential to change the world.  Together with our partners, we look to the future, imagine the possibilities, and innovate for public and private good. For over 30 years, we’ve collaborated with hundreds of organisations on thousands of projects in New Zealand and around the world.  We are the most innovative university in New Zealand in Reuters’ Top 75: Asia’s Most Innovative Universities rankings. We have also been identified by a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) study as one of the world’s leading entrepreneurial universities “under challenging conditions” (MIT Skoltech Initiative).


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Kirrily Denny