China steps up investment in AI chips with funding for Hangzhou Nationalchip – SCMP

What happened: A fund under one of China’s largest state-owned investment holding companies has invested RMB 150 million (around $22 million) in Nationalchip, a chipmaker based in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou. The fund—under the State Development and Investment Corp (SDIC) and whom the Ministry of Finance is a major stakeholder—led the Series B. Venture capital firm Sinovation Ventures, founded by former Google China head Lee Kai-fu, also took part in the funding round.

Why it’s important: Nationalchip makes chips for set-top boxes and has expanded into manufacturing AI chips. The company intends to use the extra cash for research relating to algorithm and chip design, among others, and to accelerate the development of new products. The investment highlights China’s ambition to become less dependence on foreign-made technology. Chinese companies are showing increasing interest in developing the AI chip market in China. Last year, Beijing-based Cambricon raised millions of dollars in its Series B, valuing the company at $2.5 billion. Other players include Horizon Robotics, Bitmain, and Rokid.

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Chris Udemans

Christopher Udemans is a Shanghai-based data and graphics reporter. He covers Chinese artificial intelligence, mobility, and cybersecurity. You can contact him at chrisudemans [at] technode [dot] com.