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June 27, 2017

Oxford University AI spin-out grabs $22m in Series A funding

An Oxford University start-up of AI for code receives $22m Series A funding with new products embedded to its core engine.

By Hannah Williams

Diffblue, Oxford University’s AI for code team, has raised $22 million in Series A funding just one year after its spin-out from the university.

The spin-out is a team of experts who work together to automate the traditional tasks that come with coding, such as bug fixing, test writing, refactoring code, language translation and more.

Diffblue uses a core AI system, which is designed to build an exact mathematical model of any code base. The model then provides deep semantic understanding of what the program is trying to do.

Previously, coders would action all necessary tasks manually or rely on the tools to deliver the syntax of a code base without any understanding of the semantic meaning. However, by using Diffblue’s products, coders will be able to write all code in better quality and at a faster pace.

The start-up will be launching three products built on the core engine, these include a testing product which spots bugs and writes tests automatically, a security product that automatically flags bugs and generates tests for them and a refactoring product that automatically rewrites badly expressed or old code.

Read more:Google DeepMind, University of Oxford working on emergency ‘kill switch’ for rogue AI machines

Daniel Kroening, Professor of Computer Science at University of Oxford and CEO, Diffblue said: “Software is becoming increasingly complex, interdependent and vulnerable and it’s unrealistic to believe that humans can guarantee its safety and security.

“The products we are developing at Diffblue use AI to empower users to develop code of a far higher quality and security standard than would have been possible before.

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“In doing so, it eases the burden of testing which is one of the biggest pain points for developers, and frees up their time to focus on what they do best.”

Diffblue’s code-testing product will be fully integrated with servers such as Jenkins and software providers like GitHub. The product is already available for Java and C and the Python, JavaScript and C# versions are currently under development with the security and refactoring product.

The funding round is led by Goldman Sachs Principal Strategic Investments, with support from Oxford Sciences Innovations (OSI) and Oxford Technology and Innovations Fund (OTIF).

Kroening said: “We are delighted to welcome Goldman Sachs as an investor and we look forward to working closely with them as we continue to expand Diffblue’s capabilities and product suite.”

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