A Duke professor who is the university’s vice provost for research and his technology startup still in stealth mode is off to a flying start, landing $10 million from investors, including money from Silicon Valley.

Dr. Lawrence Carin, a high-profile researcher at Duke, is the leader of the firm only identified as Unicorn ML.The company launched earlier this year.

Carrick Capital Partners, which is based in San Francisco, is one of the investors in Unicorn.

A spokesperson for Carrick confirmed to WRAL TechWire that Carin is indeed the founder of the firm and that Carrick has made an investment.

Other information about Unicorn is sketchy.

Carin, who earned a PhD, Master’s and undergraduate degrees at the University of Maryland, lists applied statistics and machine learning as his areas of research interest with specialties in signal processing and electromagnetics.

The funding – all equity – comes from three investors, according to a securities filing.

Unicorn ML is represented by law firm Hutchison, a well-known tech-focused firm based in Raleigh.

Daniel Fuchs, a partner in that firm, signed the filing. Unicorn’s address is the same as that for Hutchison’s Raleigh office.

Two directors of Carrick – Michael Salvino and Marc McMorris – also are cited in the filing along with Carin.

Carrick Capital’s investments

Carrick is a relatively new firm, having launched in 2012. Investments focus on:

  • Software
  • Cloud Computing
  • Legal

“Carrick Capital Partners is the first stop for entrepreneurs and business owners who are seeking unmatched expertise to help their businesses scale,” CrunchBase says. “Specializing in technology-enabled services such as BPO, Transaction Processing, and Software as a Service, they leverage their expertise and track record to create significant and tangible value for their diligently selected investments.”

Carrick has made more than 10 investments since 2013 and has been the lead investor in each, according to CrunchBase.

Stealth technology

Just what Unicorn is focused on is not clear. The filing cites “other technology.”

Carin is a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and is a member of the Duke Clinical Research Institute, according to his Duke University bio. He was named vice provost for research in 2014.

He heads the Carin Research Group at Duke’s Edmund T. Pratt Jr. School of Engineering.

The focuses of the research group are:

  • Reproducible Biomedical Research
  • Bayesian Compressive Sensing
  • Deep Learning

He is co-author of four research papers published earlier this year:

  • Symmetric Variational Autoencoder and Connections to Adversarial Learning
  • Learning Generic Sentence Representations Using Convolutional Neural Networks
  • Deep Generative Models for Relational Data
  • Adversarial Feature Matching for Text Generation

Other recent papers include:

  • Scalable Bayesian Learning of Recurrent Neural Networks for Language Modeling, Association for Computational Linguistics
  • Semantic Compositional Networks for Visual Captioning

More information:

Dr. Carin’s website