Swiss Startup Neural Concept Secures $27M to Speed Up EV Design to 18 Months


As competition from Chinese companies heats up and the electric vehicle (EV) market remains sluggish, leading U.S. and European auto manufacturers are scrambling to slash EV production costs to match the pricing and profit margins of internal combustion engine cars. Achieving that goal demands a faster, more efficient design process.

Enter Neural Concept, a company spun out from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), which has secured $27 million in a Series B funding round to leverage AI to tackle this very challenge.

Simply put, Neural Concept allows designers to model the performance of components before they are manufactured. It’s not enough to just have a design; understanding its behavior in a system, like an engine, is critical. The platform is applicable across various industries including automotive, micro-electronics, aerospace, and energy.

According to the company, it employs deep learning within a 3D environment, merging data analysis with machine learning to accelerate development times by up to 75% and enhance product simulation speeds by as much as tenfold.

Neural Concept team. Image Credits: Neural Concept

Pierre Baqué, co-founder and CEO at Neural Concept, stated that the platform significantly expedites what is traditionally a manual process. “Imagine having a battery design and needing to improve its thermal efficiency. Our software can suggest enhancements because it understands the properties of the materials involved,” he said.

“Before our software, a CAD designer would create 3D designs and then send them for complex numerical simulations, which could take a long time to complete or necessitate physical testing. Now, our platform guides the designer directly.”

Baqué believes his platform could cut the development time for an EV from four years to just 18 months.

The startup’s product is currently in use by companies such as Airbus, Bosch, General Electric, Mubea, Subaru, and four Formula 1 racing teams. Neural Concept is also collaborating with NVIDIA to optimize the performance of the graphics card maker’s GPUs and CUDA software.

Neural Concept faces competition from much larger ‘component simulation’ firms like ANSYS, which is also venturing into the ‘deep learning’ space with its own offerings.

The Series B funding round was led by Forestay Capital, with participation from existing investors Alven, Constantia New Business, HTGF, and Aster Group. This follows a $9 million Series A in March 2022 and a $2 million seed round in 2020. The new funds will be used for hiring and expansion into Europe, APAC, and the U.S.

Deborah Pittet, senior principal at Forestay Capital, remarked, “Neural Concept has pioneered 3D Deep Learning – the leading-edge of AI – and shown remarkable traction and results with customers in various industries worldwide.”

Mike Butcher
Mike Butcher
Tech Editor. Mike has written for UK national newspapers and magazines and been named one of the most influential people in European technology by Wired UK. He has spoken at the World Economic Forum, Web Summit, and DLD. He has interviewed Tony Blair, Dmitry Medvedev, Kevin Spacey, Lily Cole, Pavel Durov, Jimmy Wales, and many other tech leaders and celebrities. He has also advised UK Prime Ministers and the Mayor of London on tech startup policy, as well as being a judge on The Apprentice UK.

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