Seed financing for Phantasma Labs

Seed financing for Phantasma Labs:

virtual training for autonomous vehicles in extreme situations

  • Berlin-based DeepTech start-up Phantasma Labs collects seed financing. APEX Ventures leads the round, also signals VC, the VC Fonds Technologie Berlin managed by IBB Beteiligungsgesellschaft mbh, Wi Ventures and the existing investor Entrepreneur First invest.
  • Phantasma Labs is the first platform to simulate extreme situations - such as a pedestrian suddenly running into the street - to scale in the virtual world so that algorithms of autonomous vehicles learn ideal reactions. Data about such rare situations can hardly be collected in road traffic and thus become scalable.
  • The founders came from the talent program of the investor Entrepreneur First and participated in the signals pre-seed program, which prepared them for follow-up financing. The capital flows into the expansion of the team and product development.

Berlin, September 3, 2020 - Phantasma Labs, the first simulation platform of its kind to emulate complex human behavior for the training of autonomous vehicles, announces a seed funding round. The software of the Berlin-based start-up company models the behavior of pedestrians, cyclists and other road users in large-scale simulations. Using these virtual scenarios, manufacturers of autonomous vehicles train the algorithms of their autonomous vehicles in a short time in various traffic situations. They learn how to ideally navigate their vehicles in the respective situation based on data. This concept convinced APEX Ventures as lead investor as well as signals VC, the VC Fonds Technologie Berlin managed by IBB Beteiligungsgesellschaft mbH, Wi Ventures, existing investor Entrepreneur First and several top-class business angels. The venture capital is used to expand the team and for product development. "For smooth operation in road traffic, autonomous vehicles must collect vast amounts of data on a wide range of traffic scenarios. Only then can they respond effectively to them. But many important situations occur relatively rarely in everyday traffic, such as cyclists rushing out of the blind spot. It takes a correspondingly long time to collect the necessary data for these scenarios," stresses Ramakrishna Nanjundaiah, co-founder and CEO of Phantasma Labs. "Our simulation platform models important human behavior and extreme scenarios that are difficult to test in the real world in sufficient detail or without endangering people. We accelerate the learning process of the algorithms enormously". Currently, autonomous vehicles drive hundreds of thousands of kilometers in real road traffic to collect data for the training of self-learning algorithms. Accordingly, the collection and training of so-called "edge cases" is time-consuming, expensive and non-scalable. These are used to describe traffic scenarios that occur less frequently in normal road traffic - for example, in comparison to red traffic lights. Phantasma Labs combines simulation science, high performance computing, behavioral models of various road users, game engines and artificial intelligence and programs virtual worlds. These generate large amounts of data about realistic human behavior in road traffic for the training of autonomous vehicles within a short time.

"By 2030, every tenth vehicle is expected to drive autonomously and the market for autonomous vehicles is expected to grow to 13.7 billion US dollars. But training the underlying algorithms is difficult to scale. This is a stumbling block for the entire industry," says Saskia Sefranek, co-lead and director at signals. "The automotive and software industry needs a more effective way to collect road traffic data. Phantasma Labs offers this solution and has the potential to be a driver in the development of autonomous vehicles. The company has already convinced car manufacturers of the concept".

The founders of Phantasma Labs, Ramakrishna Nanjundaiah (CEO) and Maria Meier (CTO), met in the Talent Investor Entrepreneur First program and are part of the first Berlin Cohort from 2018. "Phantasma Labs is an impressive example of our program - and our goal to find, bring together and support tech experts and entrepreneurial talent without a classic startup CV," says Philipp Herkelmann, General Manager Entrepreneur First in Germany. "With degrees from the Technical University of Munich and as experienced developers, e.g. of powerful pedestrian simulations, they were perfectly positioned to jointly benefit from their technical and entrepreneurial talent and to further scale Phantasma Labs".

About Phantasma Labs

Phantasma Labs helps autonomous vehicles to better understand people. This innovation is made possible by a simulation platform that develops crucial data sets and models of human behavior for the training of autonomous vehicles. Autonomous vehicles can thus train their ideal behavior in rare extreme situations. The startup aims to become a game-changer for the industry and to improve autonomous driving in the long term.

 About signals Pre-Seed

The signals Pre-Seed Program supports early-stage founders on their way to product market fit. signals Pre-Seed offers 250T€ pre-seed financing as well as a 20T€ Founder Fellowship. The focus is on B2B start-ups in enterprise and SME-tech within the DACH region. signals Pre-Seed is a joint investment program of signals and signals Venture Capital, an independently managed, financially oriented €100 million venture capital fund. 

The portfolio companies benefit not only from classic venture capital support, but also from signals, the industrial-agnostic innovation ecosystem of one of the leading German insurance companies, the SIGNAL IDUNA Group. In doing so, signals Startup Client supports startups to become partners of the SIGNAL IDUNA Group. All initiatives are located in the signals Open Studios in Berlin, an open community space with workstations for startups as well as event spaces.

About Entrepreneur First

The Talent Investor Entrepreneur First (EF), founded in 2011 by Matt Clifford and Alice Bentinck, invests in highly talented and ambitious individuals and supports them in the creation and development of globally significant start-ups - from finding a co-founder, the idea to scaling up. To date, EF has helped over 2000 founders build their businesses. The more than 300 startups in Entrepreneur First's portfolio have a combined value of $2 billion. Entrepreneur First operates cohorts in Toronto, London, Singapore, Berlin, Paris and Bangalore. The founders of LinkedIn, DeepMind and PayPal are among the Talent Investor's supporters.

 About APEX Ventures

APEX Ventures is a European venture capital fund focusing on deep-tech start-ups with unique IP and exceptional market potential. APEX Ventures has made numerous investments in Europe as well as in the USA, including in the fields of AI for medical applications, quantum and laser technology, autonomous mobility, computer-based vision, and digital forensics. APEX Ventures is in close collaboration with the founding teams to work on go-to-market strategies and to accelerate international growth. For an effective selection of talented teams and their best possible support, APEX Ventures is in close contact with academic institutions, entrepreneurship programs and other international VC partners.

About the IBB Beteiligungsgesellschaft:

The IBB Beteiligungsgesellschaft (www.ibb-bet.de) provides venture capital to innovative Berlin-based companies and has established itself as the market leader in early stage financing in Berlin. The funds are primarily used for the development and market launch of innovative products or services as well as for business concepts of the creative industries. Since March 2015 two funds managed by IBB Beteiligungsgesellschaft are in the investment phase, the VC Fonds Technologie Berlin II with a fund volume of EUR 60 million and the VC Fonds Kreativwirtschaft Berlin II with a fund volume of EUR 40 million. Both VC funds are financed by funds of the Investitionsbank Berlin (IBB) and the European Fund for Regional Development (EFRE), managed by the State of Berlin. Since 1997 IBB Beteiligungsgesellschaft has provided approx. EUR 1.52 billion to over 210 Berlin creative and technology companies in consortia with partners, of which IBB Beteiligungsgesellschaft has invested EUR 217 million as lead, co-lead or co-investor.n and other international VC partners.



Stephan Schulze

IBB Beteiligungsgesellschaft mbH

Bundesallee 210

10719 Berlin

Tel: +49 (0)30 2125 3201

Mail: venture@ibb-bet.de