Artificial intelligence start-up Diffblue clinches $22m Series A

University of Oxford spin-out’s software builds exact mathematical model of any codebase to automate tasks such as bug fixing and test writing

Diffblue, an artificial intelligence (AI) firm spun-out from the University of Oxford, has raised $22m (£17m) in Series A funding in a round led by Goldman Sachs Principal Strategic Investments, alongside Oxford Sciences Innovations (OSI), and the Oxford Technology and Innovations Fund (OTIF).

Founded at the university’s computer science department by Daniel Kroenig, Diffblue is on a mission to automate traditional coding tasks such as bug fixing, test writing, finding and fixing exploits, refactoring code, translating from one language to another, using AI that builds an exact mathematical model of any codebase.

Its three core commercial products – which are currently being rolled out to blue chip companies – include a testing product that automatically generates human-readable tests for an existing codebase; a security product that identifies security holes and generates runnable exploits; and a refactoring product that rewrites badly expressed or out of date code.

In February this year, the government announced plans to give the UK’s AI sector a significant financial boost, with the delivery of a £17.3m funding package to British universities to support the development of new technologies.

Koenig commented: “Software is becoming increasingly complex, interdependent and vulnerable and it’s unrealistic to believe that humans can guarantee its safety and security.

“We believe that the suite of tools we are developing at Diffblue has immense potential to help address these issues. Studies show that coders spend up to 30% of their time writing tests.

“Automation will provide great returns both in terms of achieving much broader test coverage, and also freeing up significant developer time. Furthermore, many legacy codebases suffer from very deficient test coverage, which removes any chance of lifting them out of legacy and into nimbleness – again, we believe automation in this space will have powerful beneficial effects.

Lilly Bussmann, principal at Oxford Sciences Innovations (OSI), said: “We’re proud to be supporting one of Europe’s most exciting tech start-ups.

“In a world that’s increasingly run by software, Diffblue’s mission of equipping developers and organisations with the next generation AI-powered dev tools is a very worthwhile one, both in terms of its economic and social impact.”


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