Spotify CEO-backed VC firm Air Street Capital raises $121m to invest in AI startups

British venture capital firm Air Street Capital has secured $121.2 million in capital commitments toward its second fund, which it plans to invest in early-stage “AI-first” startups.

In its initial fund, Air Street Capital invested in 19 AI-driven technology and life science companies across North America and Europe.

The newly secured investment for the second fund will be directed towards further supporting “AI-first” companies, Nathan Benaich, Founder and General Partner of Air Street Capital, said in a blog post on Wednesday (September 6).

Among its recent investments, Air Street Capital has backed Sereact, a German advanced robotics company specializing in AI-powered software designed to fully automate the pick-and-pack process in warehouses and manufacturing.

“AI is a force multiplier for technology, helping us to unlock a new era of economic progress and scientific discovery. Excitement has exploded around AI since last summer, with companies of all sizes, media, politicians, and investors coming into the fold en masse. There is still so much more to discover and build with the field being in its early real-world deployment phase,” Benaich said.

Benaich added that he has been a long-time proponent of “openness and knowledge-sharing.”

“I’ve been inspired by how different members of the community build on each other’s work. Whether it’s through our international meet-ups, co-producing the State of AI Report, and supporting the RAAIS conference and the RAAIS Foundation, we’ve tried to capture this open-source ethos and make our own contributions,” Benaich continued.

He further affirmed Air Street Capital’s dedication to advocating for progress in the ecosystem, calling attention to instances where established institutions or policies may impede advancement. This includes championing improved conditions for university spinouts and advocating for a more ambitious research and development agenda in European governments.

Prior to its second fund, Air Street Capital already secured funding from OpenAI, DeepMind, Isomorphic Labs, Recursion, Exscientia, InstaDeep/BioNTech, Hugging Face, Flexport, Wayve, and industry figures like Google’s Chief Scientist Jeff Dean and Spotify CEO Daniel Ek.

Back in 2020, Ek pledged to invest €1 billion in European technology companies over the next decade.

Since that commitment, Ek and his investment vehicle Prima Materia subsequently joined funding rounds for the likes of Air Street Capital, battery maker Northvolt, H2 Green Steel, and climate venture Pale Blue Dot, among others.

In November 2021, Ek, through Prima Materia, invested €100 million into a European defense AI company called Helsing AI, which last year partnered with a European arms manufacturer.

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