Oxford machine learning company secures funding from Williams Advanced Engineering & Foresight


An Oxford University spin-out, founded by world-class physicists and machine learning engineers has secured investment from Foresight Group, a leading infrastructure and private equity investment manager and Grove, Oxfordshire-based Williams Advanced Engineering.

Machine Discovery is an ambitious early-stage software company developing machine learning technology to simplify, automate and accelerate highly complex simulation tasks. The investment  will be used to support the senior management team in taking Machine Discovery through its next stage of growth, assisted by Foresight Williams’ expertise in the sector.

Spun out of the University of Oxford in 2019, the initial algorithms developed by Machine Discovery garnered worldwide attention and coverage in high-profile academic journals, and the company is now looking to pursue large commercial contracts, targeting the rapidly expanding electronic design automation, engineering and clean energy markets.  Software sales in these sectors are estimated to be worth over $30bn per annum.

Machine Discovery’s Discovery Platform combines three key innovative technologies to dramatically speed up and reduce the cost of existing simulation workflows, enabling customers to make discoveries which were previously out of reach.

Matthew Burke, Head of Technology Ventures, Williams Advanced Engineering, said: “Machine Discovery’s technology promises a potential step change improvement in the speed of computer aided engineering simulation, analysis and optimisation. WAE’s engineers build and simulate complex physical models as part of their workflows and are therefore ideally placed to support the application of Machine Discovery’s technology in a commercially focussed engineering environment.”

Bill Yost, Investment Manager, Foresight, added:“It has been a pleasure working with the team at Machine Discovery as it continues to develop innovative machine learning technology. The technical and commercial experience in the management team, together with the opportunities in rapidly expanding markets such as engineering, suggest that Machine Discovery is poised for substantial future growth.”

Oxford Technology introduced Bijan Kiani to the business.  Bijan was previously VP Product and Marketing at Synopsys, a NASDAQ listed Electronic Design Automation (“EDA”) company focusing on advanced technologies for chip design, validation and application ($3.7bn revenue in 2020) and will take over as CEO.

Bijan Kiani, CEO, Machine Discovery, said: “Machine Discovery is revolutionising the way that the power of machine learning is harnessed by companies in a variety of sectors. Our partnership with Foresight comes at a vital stage of the company’s development, and will enable us to take advantage of the substantial market opportunities available, accelerate our growth and drive efforts to commercialise our new Discovery Platform.”

In addition to Foresight and Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE), this funding round includes co-investors, the University of Oxford Innovation Fund V, managed by Parkwalk and Oxford.