AI and Web3 startup Inference Labs secures $2.3 million in pre-seed funding

Startup wants to create an open-source AI inference market.

Hamilton, Ont.-based Inference Labs has closed $2.3 million in pre-seed funding as it looks to make AI inference more accessible.

The round was co-led by three investors: Digital Asset Capital Management, Mechanism Capital, and Delphi Ventures. Additional participation came from Big Brain Holdings, BitScale Capital, Edessa Capital, ID Theory, Metropolis DAO, Mozaik Capital, Newman Capital, Seed Club Ventures, and several angel investors.

Founded in 2023 and led by co-founder and CEO Colin Gagich and co-founder Ron Chan, Inference Labs develops infrastructure and products for artificial intelligence (AI) inference on the blockchain.

AI inference refers to the process that a trained machine-learning model uses to draw conclusions from new data. As AI has rapidly progressed in recent years, a handful of major corporations have come to dominate this field.

There is a growing movement towards decentralized AI that advocates for a shift from centralized computational structures to a more accessible, collaborative model. Projects like Gensyn and Bittensor are part of this movement, lauding decentralization’s benefits such as improved data privacy and incentivization mechanisms.

“We must lead AI into a new, secure, and accessible era, ensuring it doesn’t fall into the hands of a few,” Gagich said in a statement. “Decentralized AI isn’t just our goal, it’s a critical necessity for the future.”

As part of its recent funding announcement, Inference Labs has unveiled, a tool it says uses AI to encourage and reward parties that use liquid staking tokens and liquid restaking tokens.

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Liquid staking tokens are crypto assets that represent ownership in staked funds, while liquid restaking tokens facilitate the process of continuously reinvesting staking rewards without the need to unstake the underlying assets.

These tokens could be used to incentivize participants in AI networks to stake their computational resources or data, contributing to the training or inference processes of AI models. Staking refers to locking crypto assets for a fixed period of time to help support the operation of a blockchain.

Omron, which is part of the Bittensor network, works by using smart contracts and special nodes to offer automated strategies for restaking cryptocurrency tokens on popular platforms.

Inference Labs plans to use the fresh funding to grow its team and accelerate product development. The startup is hoping to develop a network for AI verification with proof of inference consensus, which involves participants contributing computational resources to perform AI inference tasks, and earning rewards for validating transactions on the blockchain network.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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