Ek referred to these companies – operating in fields from machine learning to biotechnology, material sciences and energy – as so-called ‘Moonshots‘ that would focus on what he said at the time would be “the deep technology necessary to make a significant positive dent”.
Spotify’s founder and his investment vehicle Prima Materia subsequently joined funding rounds for the likes of battery maker Northvolt, H2 Green Steel, climate venture Pale Blue Dot, and AI investment firm Air Street Capital.
Then, in November last year, it was revealed that Ek, via Prima Materia, had invested €100 million into a European defence AI company called Helsing AI.
He also joined the company’s Board, alongside Helsing’s co-founders Torsten Reil, Gundbert Scherf and Niklas Köhler.
In a press statement, Helsing said it “was founded to provide liberal democratic societies with world-leading AI technology for defence and national security”.
Helsing said that the investment, which formed part of a €102.5 million Series A round, would be used to grow its team of deep learning researchers, software engineers, and domain experts to further accelerate development of its AI software platform.
“AI is a powerful technology that will play a key role in shaping the progress we make as a society.”
Daniel Ek, in a November 2021 press statement
When the investment was announced, Ek said that, “We founded Prima Materia to advance ambitious science and technology to solve the world’s biggest challenges and help society progress towards a better future”.
He added: “AI is a powerful technology that will play a key role in shaping the progress we make as a society. Europe has a tremendous opportunity to lead in building dynamic AI systems in an ethical, transparent, and responsible manner.”
Now, the Daniel Ek-backed defence AI company has entered into a strategic partnership with Rheinmetall, a Germany-based, publicly listed automotive and arms manufacturer.
According to press materials announcing the partnership, “through the joint development of software-based defence systems and retrofitting of existing platforms, this partnership will provide the armed forces with advanced and future-proof capabilities, enabling them to meet current and future challenges.”
What that means in practice, the release continues, is that the partnership “combines world-leading, battle-tested components, platforms, systems and software with modern, military-grade AI capabilities in order to deter and, if necessary, successfully take on an adversary”.
It adds: “By investing in technology development upfront and delivering new products at speed, this partnership will provide the armed forces with fast access to the latest technological innovations.”
“Helsing is a new type of defence company, focused purely on software and AI, funding our own product development. We are therefore delighted to partner with Rheinmetall and combine our advanced AI capabilities with their world-leading land platforms.”
Dr Gundbert Scherf, Helsing
Dr Gundbert Scherf, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Helsing said: “Helsing is a new type of defence company, focused purely on software and AI, funding our own product development.
“We are therefore delighted to partner with Rheinmetall and combine our advanced AI capabilities with their world-leading land platforms. Recent geopolitical events have shown that democracies need to be able to protect and deter.
“But democracies also need to out-innovate and out-pace autocratic regimes. We believe this partnership has the potential to do that, equipping land forces for the future at pace.”
Christoph Müller, CEO of Rheinmetall Electronic Solutions, said: “Rheinmetall has been supplying advanced networked products, systems, software and technologies in the defence and security realm for many decades, for which we are very grateful.
“Our partnership with Helsing will further augment our capabilities in the field of artificial intelligence, enabling us to equip our products with the latest technologies faster than ever. This lets us modernize legacy platforms and systems, providing our customers with new, world-leading capabilities.”
Music Business Worldwide