Stanhope AI raises £2.3M for Neuroscience-Based AI Revolution

Stanhope AI, a company harnessing decades of neuroscience research for training machines to make decisions akin to humans in real-world scenarios, has successfully bagged £2.3 million in seed investment.

The UCL Technology Fund spearheaded this round, with contributions from Creator Fund, MMC Ventures, Moonfire Ventures, Rockmount Capital, and a host of leading angel investors.

Originating as a spinout from University College London with backing from UCL Business, Stanhope AI was founded by three luminaries in the fields of neuroscience and AI research: CEO Professor Rosalyn Moran (previously Deputy Director at King’s Institute for Artificial Intelligence), Director Karl Friston (Professor at the UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology), and Technical Advisor Dr Biswa Sengupta (MD of AI and Cloud products at JP Morgan Chase).

At the cutting edge of what's being called “agentic" AI, Stanhope AI leverages core neuroscience concepts, marrying them with AI and mathematics. The team has developed algorithms that mimic the human brain's constant predictions about future occurrences, learning from any deviation between expected and actual outcomes to refine their “internal models of the world.” Unlike the conventional training of vast LLMs, Stanhope’s agentic AI takes the reins of its own learning, deciphering its surroundings and evolving its “world models” with real-time data fed through onboard sensors.

The Evolution of Agentic AI

This innovative methodology is rooted in the neuroscience principle of Active Inference, positing that our brains are perpetually predicting sensory data to minimise free energy. As sensory input shifts, so do our predictions, allowing us to adjust and fine-tune our understanding of the world.

This stands in stark contrast to traditional AI training methods, which confine models to the data they've been fed, limiting them to making the best-guess decisions without the ability to learn dynamically. They also demand considerable processing power and energy, along with extensive data for training.

Stanhope AI's Active Inference models break from tradition by being truly autonomous, capable of incessantly refining their predictions, thus sidestepping the pitfalls of data hallucinations and steering closer to human-like reasoning and decision-making. Their efficiency enables deployment in compact devices, such as drones, revolutionising potential applications.

Groundbreaking Theory

The foundation of Stanhope AI's innovative approach lies in the extensive research into Active Inference and the principle of free energy by its founding team. Director Professor Friston, a distinguished neuroscientist at UCL, introduced the Free Energy Principle, a theory that has significantly impacted understanding of how brains reduce surprise and uncertainty by minimising free energy—a concept as transformative as the theory of natural selection. This theory underpins Stanhope AI’s pioneering work in developing models that not only enhance energy efficiency but also promise substantial applications in delivery drones, autonomous machinery, manufacturing, industrial robotics, and embodied AI. The recent funding will fuel the advancement of Stanhope AI’s agentic AI models and the practical deployment of its groundbreaking research.

Professor Rosalyn Moran, CEO and co-founder of Stanhope AI, said: "Our mission at Stanhope AI is to bridge the gap between neuroscience and artificial intelligence, creating a new generation of AI systems that can think, adapt, and decide like humans. We believe this technology will transform the capabilities of AI and robotics and make them more impactful in real-world scenarios. We trust the math and we’re delighted to have the backing of investors like UCL Technology Fund who deeply understand the science behind this technology and their support will be significant on our journey to revolutionise AI technology."

David Grimm, Partner UCL Technology Fund, said: "AI startups may be some of the hottest investments right now but few have the calibre and deep scientific and technical know-how as the Stanhope AI team. This is emblematic of their unique approach, combining neuroscience insights with advanced AI, which presents a groundbreaking opportunity to advance the field and address some of the most challenging problems in AI today. We can’t wait to see what this team achieves.”

Marina Santilli, Associate Director UCL Business, said “The promise offered by Stanhope AI’s approach to Artificial Intelligence is hugely exciting, providing hope for powerful whilst energy-light models. UCLB is delighted to have been able to support the formation of a company built on the decades of fundamental research at UCL led by Professor Friston, developing the Free Energy Principle.”