Dublin AI start-up Artomatix raises €2.1m in seed round

1 Mar 2017

Dr Eric Risser and Neal O’Gorman, founders of Artomatix. Image: Artomatix

Artomatix founder Eric Risser’s idea to use AI to create 3D worlds is not so crazy after all.

Dublin artificial intelligence (AI) company Artomatix has raised €2.1m in a seed round.

It is still the start of the journey for founder Dr Eric Risser as his company makes headway in enabling movie houses and games companies to create immersive 3D worlds.

But it could all have been very different.

“No, we have no money for your weird AI arts stuff,” Risser was told by a professor when he was a computer science student at Columbia University. He persevered, completed his PhD at Trinity College Dublin instead, and started a company.

That company, Artomatix, is now on its way to help define the future of entertainment and design.

Artomatix, a previous Siliconrepublic.com Start-up of the Week, counts several Fortune 500 companies among their initial clients.

The company is chaired by Dr Steven Collins, co-founder of Havok and a partner at Frontline Ventures.

3D vision enabled by AI

The funding round comprises backers that include Enterprise Ireland, several key angel investors (€600,000), and the European Commission through the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument programme for high-potential European companies (€1.5m).

The seed round follows €300,000 of pre-seed funding obtained through NDRC and various grants and awards, including Nvidia’s $100,000 Early-Stage Challenge.

“This funding will be devoted to hire engineers and researchers to help execute our product roadmap and to develop our technological competitive advantage further,” Risser said.

“We believe this funding will go a long way towards helping us realise our vision to enable 3D artists create immersive worlds faster than ever.”

Artomatix was founded in March 2014 by Risser, Neal O’Gorman, and Barthélémy Kiss, who joined shortly after. As of February 2017, the company employs 17 people.

Markets and Markets reports that 3D represents a vibrant €128bn global industry that is poised for spectacular growth. By 2022, the 3D market will represent €282bn.

Studios creating 3D content are already at capacity and are challenged to produce the current market demands.

That’s where Artomatix comes in.

Artomatix’s technology, known as ‘Example-Based Content Creation’, relies on Risser’s expertise in machine learning, computer vision and computer graphics developed over 10 years of research.

Fully implemented, this technology will give 3D artists the ability to speed up their workflow, thanks to a set of proprietary features tied to modelling (the ‘shapes’ of 3D models) and texturing (their ‘skins’).

“We are convinced that the future of 3D content creation lies in artificial intelligence,” Risser said.

In January, Artomatix elevated deep-learning-based content creation through its publication of ‘Stable and Controllable Neural Texture Synthesis and Style Transfer Using Histogram Losses’.

The company is using this technology to develop an offering that gives artists the chance to ‘recycle’ 3D assets to breath new life into old and unusable ones, by automatically updating the style and fidelity to match any need.

The company will be demoing its technology at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco this week.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years