May 21, 2024

Ex-Deepmind scientists raise $220m to launch Paris-based agentic AI startup H

The startup, previously known as Holistic, says its models will be able to solve more complex tasks

Paris-based AI startup H, previously known as Holistic, has raised a $220m seed round to build foundational models — AI models trained on large amounts of data, similar to those developed by OpenAI in the US, Mistral in France and Aleph Alpha in Germany.

H was founded earlier this year in the French capital by a team that includes Karl Tuyls, Laurent Sifre, Julien Perolat and Daan Wierstra, who are all former scientists from Google DeepMind; CEO Charles Kantor is a former Stanford University computational mathematics student. 

The capital will be used to expand the startup’s research team and to fund the “vast amounts” of compute and data power that are necessary to build foundational models, according to the company.


The company did not disclose how much of the investment is equity and how much is debt. According to previous reports, the round is made up of up to $120m in convertible bonds — a form of debt financing that can be converted into equity after specific conditions have been met.

The round was included US VC Accel, with participation from US tech behemoth Amazon and New York-based robotic automation software company UiPath. Sifted previously reported that UiPath had invested $35.2m in H.

French public bank Bpifrance and Paris-based investors Eurazeo, Elaia Partners, Aglaé Ventures and Motier Ventures participated; and the round also included backing from Ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt and French billionaire Xavier Niel, as well as US VC FirstMark and Stockholm-based investor Creandum. 

What does H do?

H builds foundational models that it describes as “agentic”, a type of AI that is designed to be able to break down tasks into multiple steps and carry out those sub tasks, rather than just responding to prompts one at a time. The startup says that its models will be more capable of reasoning, planning and collaborating than those of its competitors.

The technology is intended to serve both business and consumer verticals and UiPath is already planning to develop a commercial relationship with the startup.

The Romania-founded company, which provides automation software to carry out repetitive tasks within enterprises, says that H’s technology will significantly expand its capabilities.

“The H team will bring the power of GenAI to businesses and business automation via a new generation of action models, capable of completing a succession of tasks to automate complex workflows,” said UiPath cofounder and chief innovation officer Daniel Dines. 

“I believe this foundational layer will be transformative and give new execution capabilities to software across industries and functions.”

Launching in Paris

H has already hired a team of 25 engineers and scientists. 

The startup’s launch in Paris comes as the French capital emerges as one of Europe’s hot spots for AI. Mistral AI, which was founded by Meta and DeepMind alumni, has raised just under $500m in less than a year and is increasingly seen as one of Europe’s most promising competitors to US company OpenAI.

“By launching in Paris, H confirms France’s leadership in the field of GenAI,” said Nicolas Dufourcq, CEO of Bpifrance.


Daphné Leprince-Ringuet

Daphné Leprince-Ringuet is a reporter for Sifted based in Paris and covering French tech. You can find her on X and LinkedIn