US chip giant Intel just backed these three Chinese tech start-ups
With US-China trade tensions showing no signs of easing and Washington now considering restricting Chinese scientists from taking part in sensitive American research projects over national security fears, the climate doesn’t seem right for fostering cross border investments in the tech sector.
Even so, investment interest in the sector remains high, according to chip giant Intel Corp, which on Tuesday announced that its investment arm Intel Capital has invested US$115 million in 12 start-ups, including three from China.
The start-ups focus on artificial intelligence, cloud service, Internet of Things (loT) and silicon technologies, according to a statement by Intel Capital.
“These innovative companies reflect Intel’s strategic focus as a data leader,” said Wendell Brooks, senior vice president of the company, adding that the potential of innovation has only scratched the surface, with the roll-out of 5G networks and improvements in AI poised to enable immersive, real-time experiences.
Intel’s past investments in China have included AI start-up Horizon Robotics, semiconductor developer Beijing UniSpreadtrum Technology, cloud platform Beijing AWCloud Software, and smartphone design manufacturer Huaqin Telecom Technology.
Since 1991 Intel Capital has invested US$12.3 billion in over 1,530 companies worldwide, with more than 660 listing publicly or being acquired.
Here are the three Chinese start-ups added to its portfolio:
Cloud service provider Alauda
Founded in 2014 by former Microsoft cloud veterans, Beijing-based Alauda has developed an IT enterprise offering called platform-as-a-service (PaaS). The company counts Tencent, Banyan Capital and CBC Capital among its investors.
Alauda provides digitalisation services to a broad range of industries including financial services, manufacturing, aviation, energy and automotive, using computer vision and facial recognition.
“Many Chinese companies have started to play global-leading roles in cloud computing innovation, including Alauda in the container sector,” Anthony Lin, Intel Capital vice president and managing director of Greater Asia and Europe, said in a statement.
IoT semiconductor maker Espressif Systems
Shanghai-based Espressif said it had shipped a total of 100 million loT chips by the end of last year. Founded in 2008, the company uses wireless computing technology to create connectivity solutions on tablets, cameras, wearable devices and home appliances.
“Espressif has demonstrated its ability to create innovative IoT solutions with a competitive edge,” said Lin. “We look forward to working with the company to help unlock the potential for data in a new era of smart and connected devices.”
Visual perception technology company Reconova
Billed as a technology enabler for China’s “new retail” strategies, Reconova provides real-time customer flow monitoring and analysis using facial recognition and computer vision. The company, based in Xiamen, Fujian province, also offers technology solutions for security, assistive driving and smart homes.
Founded in 2012, Reconova touts a broad client base which includes Alibaba, JD.com, Huawei, Focus Media, Wanda Group and Xiaomi Corp.
Lin said the Intel funding will enable the company to enhance its visual perception technologies and accelerate implementation of AI applications.