AI start-up Diffblue has raised $22 million in Series A funding, just one year after its spin-out from the University of Oxford.

The firm's technology builds an exact mathematical model of any code base – which allows for very deep semantic understanding of what a programme is trying to do.

Three products built using this core engine are being built: a testing product that automatically spots bugs and writes tests; a security product that automatically flags up exploitable bugs and generates tests for those bugs; and a refactoring product that automatically rewrites badly expressed or out of date code.

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In the past coders have had to do these tasks manually, or rely on tools.

Daniel Kroening, professor of Computer Science at University of Oxford and founder of Diffblue, said: “Software is becoming increasingly complex, interdependent and vulnerable and it’s unrealistic to believe that humans can guarantee its safety and security.

“The products we are developing at Diffblue’s use AI to empower users to develop code of a far higher quality and security standard than would have been possible before

" In doing so, it eases the burden of testing which is one of the biggest pain points for developers, and frees up their time to focus on what they do best.”Diffblue’s suite of products should help coders write to a higher quality, much more quickly.

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

“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.

“To us, Diffblue is a great example of how world-class research undertaken at Oxford can result in truly innovative technologies being put in the hands of end-users.”

The funding round was led by Goldman Sachs Principal Strategic Investments, alongsideOxford Sciences Innovations (OSI)and Oxford Technology and Innovations Fund (OTIF).

The code-testing product, which will be fully integrated with continuous integration servers such as Jenkins and software repository providers such as GitHub, is now available for Java and C. Under development are the Python, JavaScript and C# versions of the testing product, as well as the security and refactoring product.

Barnaby Martin, Chairman of Diffblue said: “We’re proud to have closed one of Europe’s largest Series A rounds for an AI company.”