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Legal 500, 2022

Harbottle & Lewis advises Mercuri on its co-lead investments in Human Native AI and Ittybit

Harbottle & Lewis has advised Mercuri, an early-stage venture capital fund, on its recent co-lead investments in Human Native AI and Ittybit, adding to the growing portfolio of its second fund, which closed last summer.

Human Native AI is a London-based startup founded by James Smith and Jack Galilee in 2024, which is aiming to empower content creators and owners of IP to take control of, and get paid for, their data being used for training AI models.

Mercuri co-led the investment in Human Native alongside LocalGlober in the company’s £2.8m seed funding round, which closed in May 2024.

Commenting on the investment, Alan Hudson, founding partner at Mercuri, said: “Rights holders are demanding greater control over how their works are being used to train AI systems, and we think Human Native AI is the answer to this problem, preserving human creativity in the face of rapid technological developments.”

Ittybit is a Salford-based startup founded by Paul Anthony Williams in 2021 to meet the rising demand for high-quality image, video and file uploads. Ittybit has developed an AI compression tool to reduce upload and download times, as well as reduce storage requirements for files. It also offers tools to filter unsafe uploads, enhance content searchability and automate the tagging and transcription processes.

Ittybit raised £1.5m in its seed funding round in May 2024, which was co-led by Mercuri and Sure Valley Ventures, with participations from Oxford Capital, Baltic Ventures and angel investors.

James Pringle, Mercuri principal and newly appointed investor director at Ittybit said: “As specialists in media and technology industries, we see Ittybit as a groundbreaking solution that excels in speed, quality, and cost-efficiency. While it’s still early, we are enthusiastic about Ittybit’s potential to significantly impact and grow within the dynamic media landscape.

Both investments fit within Mercuri’s thesis of investing in companies at the intersection of media, entertainment and technology.

The Harbottle team which advised Mercuri in connection with these investments was led by co-managing partner Tony Littner and senior associate Rosie Marston.

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