Startup Axelera AI has career opportunities in Eindhoven as they ‘democratize’ artificial intelligence with new chip, software

(Editor’s note: At Dispatches, our mission is all about the global mobility of talent. This post about Axelera and the latest tech careers in Eindhoven, the deep-tech capital of Europe, is part of our Tech Tuesday series.)

We recently tuned into High Tech Campus Eindhoven’s “Back to Business: AI Edition” webinar and saw one of the more interesting startups we’ve seen in a long time. It isn’t often we say to ourselves, “this could be huge,” but the ambitious approach to making AI available to small businesses, the talent involved and the sophisticated technology blew us away.

Axelera AI is based at the AI Innovation Center at HTCE with R&D operations in Leuven University in Belgium and Zurich. A surprisingly large team – 32 people, including 23 PhDs – for a startup only a few months old is developing a hardware and software platform they say will move AI beyond the big corporations that have the resources to exploit AI now. Axelera has already recruited senior engineers and developers from global companies and research centers, including Intel, Qualcomm, IBM, and imec, according to the company website. (At some point, we typed “Why didn’t we know about Axelera?” in the live chat.)

The company was incubated at Amsterdam-based emerging tech company Bitfury Group in 2019. It was co-founded by CEO Fabrizio Del Maffeo, and one of the first things Del Maffeo told the viewers at the “Back to Business” webinar is, “We are looking for talent so if you want to join us, please apply.”

Axelera’s founders plan to scale up to 100 people by the end of 2022. Plans include raising $100 million as they grow to 150 people and reach profitability.

Axelera raised a $12 million seed round in September. Along with Bit Fury, investors include the creme de la creme of research institutions such as Leuven-based research center IMEC and early stage VCs, including Amsterdam-based Innovation Industries.

CEO and co-founder Fabrizio Del Maffeo and CTO and co-founder Evangelos Eleftheriou both come out of advanced tech companies such as Advantech and IBM.

Their focus is AI vision at the edge (the servers closest to the data source) for B2B, Del Maffeo said. They want to make affordable AI hardware and software available to companies, packages that can be integrated quickly and easily into existing infrastructure and compatible with drones, robotics, etc. for field deployment. “Almost plug-and-play ….” Del Maffeo said. That would democratize AI, giving developers a deeper understand how neural networks work with a tech solution they could integrate without changing software stacks and redesigning everything from scratch.

The value of this market would be immense as SMEs represent 99 percent of European firms and global firms that can’t afford deep-learning engineers, he said.

The problem is, the neural networks – networks of computers using algorithms to mimic the way humans think – require “outrageous resources,” Del Maffeo said. One can’t take the computational power of the cloud and drop it on the edge. It’s difficult to scale.” The power and memory demands for neural networks are unsustainable without significant software and hardware innovation,” he said.

Standard computing technology doesn’t deal well with neural networks. Conventional CPU and memory processing move data from the memory to the processor, then back to the memory, he said. This technology limits the parallelization of the calculations and demands a lot of power consumption because of the data movement, not the calculation, Del Maffeo said.

That’s where Axelera comes in. Their not-so-secret sauce (it’s all in the video above) is taking in chip computing and combining it with data-flow architecture.

Axelera modifies chips for in-cell computing. With millions of cells, you have millions of simultaneous calculations. This technology is more efficient and highly programmable, deployable at the edge or scaleable to the cloud, Del Maffeo said.

This isn’t just a concept. Axelera is ready to test final chip for validation, then deliver it to selected customers, he said. The plan is ultimately for open access by 2023, allowing customers to just go online and buy the hardware.

Then, Del Maffeo ended his presentation as he began it, with an invitation to the audience to come work with the team.

Axelera has at least 30 career opportunities at the moment.

They include:

VP of Engineering

The VP of Engineering will “define the R&D roadmap & key results overseeing with the CTO the activities of the research team to define the future chip architecture and features and the path to production,” according to the website. That person is responsible of the complete chip development from concept to production, including talent recruitment and budgeting.

• Master’s degree in Electronics, PhD is a plus
• Minimum 10 years’ experience in complex chip design and computing architecture
• Five years’ experience in people and team management
• Proven successful experience in chip tape-out on 16/12 nm or smaller process node

Oh, and the job descriptions says you should be a natural-born leader.

• There are multiple openings for software engineers, including a senior software engineer for R&D.

You can reach Fabrizio via his company or via LinkedIn.

NXP and ASML also have openings

Also presenting at “Back to Business” were Arnaud Hubaux from ASML and Clara Otero from NXP. ASML is on its way to becoming Europe’s most valuable company, and NXP is a key chipmaker for the auto industry and other sectors. Both are headquartered in Eindhoven, with NXP at High Tech Campus Eindhoven.

Here are a couple of the latest listings at ASML, which literally has thousands of openings at its Veldhoven HQ in computer science, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, mechatronics, mathematic, physics (more than 80) and optics (more than 50). Most positions require at least a master’s degree and most a PhD.

Here are a few samples:

• Researcher Electron Optics Modeling –  research electron beam metrology products, aimed at future electronic devices in the semiconductor industry. Get more details here.

• Project Leader EUV projection – take end-to-end ownership for the development of optical projection solutions in the EUV scanners. You can see more details here.

You can see all the ASML career openings here.

NXP currently has 66 openings in Eindhoven and hundreds of jobs in a total of 30 countries in Europe, Asia and North America.

They include:

Senior mmWave RF engineer – develop and create dedicated radar system solutions to support NXP’s radar products.

Software Tools Engineer – design and develop tooling solutions to enable innovative and optimized Smart Card products such as payment cards, passports and security solutions.

You can see all the NXP job openings here.

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Co-CEO of Dispatches Europe. A former military reporter, I'm a serial expat who has lived in France, Turkey, Germany and the Netherlands.

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