UK’s Mignon has a fresh proposition for AI on the edge

This story is syndicated from the premium edition of PreSeed Now, a newsletter that digs into the product, market, and founder story of UK-founded startups so you can understand how they fit into what’s happening in the wider world and startup ecosystem.

The reignited excitement around the potential of AI as we hurtle into 2023 brings with it concerns about how best to process all the data needed to make it work. This is far from a new challenge though, and next-generation AI chips are being developed in labs around the world to address the challenge in different ways.

One of the first startups we ever covered at PreSeed Now takes a ‘neuromorphic’ approach, influenced by the human brain. Coming from a different direction is a brand new spinout from Newcastle University called Mignon (so new, in fact, that there’s no website yet).

Mignon has developed an artificial intelligence chipset that, according to CEO Xavier Parkhouse-Parker, has “in the order of 10,000x performance improvements against alternative neural-network based chips for classification tasks”

Classification is, essentially, the process of figuring out what the AI is looking at, hearing, reading, etc — the first step in understanding the world around it, whatever use case it’s put to. Mignon’s chipset is designed to be used in edge computing as a “classification coprocessor” on devices, rather than in the cloud.

What’s more, Parkhouse-Parker says Mignon’s chipset can also train AI models on the edge, meaning the models can be optimised for the specific, individual environments in which they’re used.