Atlas raises $4.5M research grant for 3D GenAI and 3D asset creation

Atlas has raised $4.5 million from the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) to build 3D generative AI and 3D asset creation tools.

Vienna-based Atlas said the grant will amplify Atlas’s research and development initiatives, solidifying its position as a leader in changing the way developers create virtual worlds and gaming experiences. The endorsement from the agency underscores Atlas’s pioneering work in the realm of 3D generative AI.

Atlas said previously it raised $6 million from investors and it also strategically partnered with luminaries in triple-A studios, next-gen gaming, and immersive design, including Consortium9, Shrapnel and Square Enix.

Ben James, CEO of Atlas, said in a statement, “Receiving this grant signifies trust and belief in Atlas’s 3D generative AI innovation, not just as a participant in the space, but as the leader. As we chart an exciting path forward, we remain relentless in our dedication to push the boundaries of what’s possible when technology and creativity converge. Our global ambitions are made possible by our Austrian roots, and this funding is a high honor.”

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Brutalist Scene 6
A Brutalist scene created by Atlas.

Atlas has been selected as an accelerator by FFG, indicating that the company is at the forefront of high-impact innovations capable of creating new markets or disrupting existing ones. The grant will be disbursed over three years, starting with $608,000 in 2024, followed by up to $2.3 million in 2025 and $1.6 million in 2026, contingent upon the achievement of milestones.

The infusion of funds will empower Atlas to undertake extensive research, development, and the introduction of new technologies and projects in 2024 and beyond. As the gaming landscape evolves rapidly, Atlas wants to provide partners with the capability to craft highly tailored virtual experiences that adapt in real time. Atlas said it remains committed to ethical AI practices, ensuring partner data integrity while unlocking efficiencies and expanding the horizons of 3D generative AI.

This grant announcement follows Atlas’s emergence from stealth in November 2023, marked by a $6 million fundraising round from industry giants, including 6th Man Ventures (6MV), Collab+Currency, A16z Scouting Fund via Shrapnel, and others.

Atlas had previously received funding from grants dedicated to building AI technology, aligning with the European Union’s High-Level Expert Group on Trustworthy AI in 2020. With the EU’s recent rollout of regulations through the AI Act, the additional $4.5 million over the next three years reinforces the commitment to building trustworthy AI, prioritizing transparency, accountability, and inclusivity.

Atlas was founded in 2021 and it has 11 people.

The company’s primary focus is on gaming. The tech they’re building is for game developers, but they have had use cases in VFX, virtual worlds for brands, and architecture design as well.

Ben James, Atlas’ founder, was shocked when he began working as an architect by the limited role new technology played in the design process — content creation is time-consuming, inflexible and manual work, and many technical aspects (e.g. uv mapping) are more banal than creative.

His work as an architect focused on machine vision, representing designs in AR, and he saw the opportunity to connect machine vision with machine learning in a way that could augment the intuition of the designer by generating 3D models based on reference images.

Initially focusing on architecture, Atlas had interest from built architecture offices and urban planners but when speaking with game developers, they flagged, “we design more architecture in a single game than an office does in 10 years and we’re not trained as architects.” This led to the pivot, and now Atlas generates a broad suite of environment assets from buildings to landscapes to props.

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