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July 12, 2017

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AI startup SenseTime raising US$410m

CHINA-BASED Artificial Intelligence firm SenseTime announced yesterday it had raised US$410 million in the latest round of funding, the biggest single round investment in AI globally.

The move underscores the booming “AI First” wave in China.

With services such as facial recognition, smart surveillance and deep learning and clients including China Mobile, UnionPay, Huawei, OPPO and Weibo, SenseTime becomes the biggest AI unicorn firm in China, referring to private startups with market value of more than US$1 billion.

The investment came from major investors CDH Investments and Sailing Capital, as well as almost 20 financial institutions including China International Capital Corporation, China Everbright Holdings, China Renaissance and China Merchants Securities (Hong Kong).

The capital will support technology and applications development as SenseTime seeks to create an AI ecosystem for the global market, constructing more advanced AI infrastructure and expanding sectors such as autonomous driving, said Xu Li, co-founder and chief executive of SenseTime.

It now has more than 400 partners and customers,

Google’s AlphaGo raised eyebrows worldwide after its computer algorithms beat the world’s top Go player in a human-versus-machine series in May in China.

Google itself has taken on an “AI First” business transformation, which has been echoed by Baidu as China’s biggest search service provider.

China is drafting a national blueprint to develop AI as it restructures the economy and implements reforms to move toward a more innovation-driven economy, government officials said recently.

China is one of the top destinations for attracting AI talent and investment, narrowing the gap with the United State, LinkedIn said in a recent report.

In the AI era, people want to see a “Chinese pioneer” to transform the global landscape, said Wu Shangzhi, Chairman of CDH Investments, one of the investors.


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