Helsing, a "Defense AI" startup backed by Spotify founder Daniel Ek which had previously raised €102.5 million, has today pulled in another €209 million ($223 million) in a Series B funding round led by General Catalyst. Swedish heavy industry and defense group Saab is joining as a strategic investor, deepening what was previously an existing partnership.
The investment could potentially make Helsing the largest European AI company and also the largest European defense tech unicorn. In June, France's Mistral AI raised a $113 million seed round at a $260 million valuation. The pre-money valuation for Helsing was said to be €1.5 billion, but post-money would put that figure at over €1.7 billion.
It was back in 2021 that we reported on how Ek was following through on his pledge to put €1 billion ($1.2 billion) of his personal fortune toward funding deep tech “moonshot projects,” using Prima Materia, his investment company, to back Helsing with €100 million. Its AI platform claims to be able to boost defense and national security, specifically for liberal democracies, by making them more efficient, using live data.
To date, Helsing has expanded in Europe by working closely with governments. In June this year he German government selected Helsing and Saab to provide AI-enabled electronic warfare capabilities for the Eurofighter jet fighter. And this month, Helsing and its consortium partners won the contract to provide the AI backbone for the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) program.
The company has also -- not unexpectedly -- been active in Ukraine since 2022.
“This funding round is a vote of confidence in Europe,” said Torsten Reil, co-founder of Helsing, in a statement. “General Catalyst’s commitment to global and European resilience is a perfect fit with our mission to help protect our democracies.”
“We founded Helsing because we believe that AI will be essential so that democracies can continue to defend their values. Our recent traction shows that this belief is shared by governments and industry,” added Gundbert Scherf, co-founder of Helsing.
Helsing’s previous Series A (€102.5 million) was led by Prima Materia. Ek, co-chairman of Helsing, said: “This investment from General Catalyst and investment and strategic partnership with Saab Defence reaffirms Helsing as the primary AI platform partner out of Europe.”