SoftBank, Foxconn Commit $30M To Chinese AI And Cloud Startup

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China’s artificial intelligence and cloud computing industry has been very busy this year.

Last week the industry saw another important round of funding, as CloudMinds (达闼科技), an AI and cloud computing startup, announced a $30 million USD round of seed funding, led by SoftBank International, the Tokyo-based telecommunications company that invested early in Alibaba.

Other participating investors included Taiwanese electronics manufacturer, Foxconn, and Walden International, an investment firm that funds early stage companies in the semiconductor sector, among other verticals.

“When early stage startups are choosing investors, they can’t just think about the money – they also have to consider their resources,” said Bill Huang (黄晓庆), the CEO of CloudMinds in an interview with Caixin (link in Chinese). “SoftBank, Foxconn, and Walden International are all strategic partners.”

All of CloudMinds investors will partner together on “operations resources, manufacturing, and semiconductor downstream resources,” according to the company’s press release last Tuesday.

These partnerships will be key to achieving CloudMinds’ ambitious plan to construct a global framework for cloud computing, a “new standard for information security” that CloudMinds calls the “Mobile-Intranet Cloud Service” (MCS). This service aims to provide enterprises with a secure cloud computing platform for XaaS (X as a Service) products, and includes services like image recognition, voice recognition, and big data analysis.

CloudMinds’ MCS will be built on top of a network called the “Skynet”, which is specifically designed for connected devices and robots. According to CloudMinds’ press release, Skynet is separate from the internet and uses blockchain technology for more secure and high speed service. The company plans to extend Skynet’s coverage to all continents except Antarctica within two years.

“With [our technology], users will….be able to access a hidden virtual space, similar to planes in stealth-mode,” said Mr. Huang in an interview with Caixin (link in Chinese). “Hackers will not be able to find you, they’ll have no way to attack you. This is the core of the next generation of mobile technology. It will be vital for finance, healthcare, government, and big corporations.”

In addition to CloudMinds, China’s artificial intelligence and cloud computing industry includes big, corporate players suck as Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of Alibaba. This year, Alibaba Cloud has closed partnerships all across Asia with companies like SoftBank, SAP, Accenture, and NVIDIA, the graphics processing unit (GPU) manufacturer. Other tech giants have taken the approach of investing in cloud computing and AI startups, such as Lenovo, which announced the launch of a $500 million USD fund for robotics, AI, and cloud computing startups earlier this month.

Founded in 2015, CloudMinds plans to seek another round of investment following this completion of seed funding. Future funds will go towards the development, production, and marketing of the first phase of MCS. The company is also developing a robotics product for the blind called Meta, which uses computer vision, machine learning, and language processing to provide users with information about their surroundings and interactions.

Image credit: CloudMinds