This is the seventh and last in a seven-part series on China's VC investment in Q1 2022. This series features firms spanning seven industries, including smart mobility, healthcare, New Retail, intelligent hardware, smart manufacturing, enterprise services and emerging technologies
In the summer of 2021, China's State Council released an ambitious governmental blueprint in which it set the goal to become "the world's leading AI innovation center" by 2030, by which time, it predicted, the country's AI industry could be worth USD 150 billion.
With the support of national policies, investment institutions have tapped into the hard technology sector one after another. The craze over investment into Internet, sharing economy and mass consumption segments is shifting to the development of intelligent hardware, the principal subdivisions of intelligent hardware terminals.
Intelligent hardware is mainly used in applications including consumer electronics, smart home, intelligent transportation, intelligent industry, intelligent medical and other fields.
For intelligent hardware, we at EqualOcean have identified 20 companies worth watching in Q1. The core criterion is to receive venture capital investments of over USD 30 million on average or the equivalent value in CNY in a single round. When compiling the list, we also considered factors such as growth prospects, brand influences and reputation, as well as planned expansions.
From SMEs about to make their mark in the market, to well-established companies that have already raised significant funds and are still seeking further capital injections, here's a list you won't want to miss.
On March 16, Chinese smart projector brand JMGO (Chinese: 坚果投影) closed a CNY1 billion (USD160 million) pre-Series A funding round led by cellphone maker OPPO and IDG Capital.
The funds from the round will be used to expand operations, boost technology reserve as well as increase product research and development, brand promotion and other strategic key businesses. JMGO has completed nine rounds of financing so far, counting Alibaba Group Holding and Golden Brick Capital among its investors.
On March 8, Uah (Chinese: 有哈), a pioneer in pet intelligent hardware product and service, announced the completion of a pre-Series A round of financing of tens of millions of yuan, led by Fengrui Capital and with fellow-on participation by angel investor Zhixing Capital.
Founded in 2019, Uah is dedicated to providing tech-driven pet services and products, such as intelligent vacuum food storage buckets, cat litter box intelligent odor purifiers, intelligent pet water dispensers and so on for users. The company expects to utilize the fund for further market expansion, product upgrading and service diversification.
On February 17, Lianzhang Menhu (Chinese:联掌门户), the first Chinese AI-driven community access control system operator, completed its CNY 100 million Series B financing round led by Xiamen Huayuan Ventures. Previously, the company has received more than CNY 58 million in a Series A financing round led by Wuxi New Investment.
The main business segments of Lianzhang Menhu include smart community access control, advertising, community e-commerce, and local life. This round of financing will be used to further strengthen the existing business and accelerate the company’s expansion.
Shenzhen-based smart home appliance provider Orvibo (Chinese: 欧瑞博) has raised USD 207 million across six rounds. In its latest round on January 17, Tencent, Huaxing Growth Capital, Suofeiya, Fusen Noble-House and the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of Pingxiang City all participated, with a total investment of CNY 1 billion (USD 157 million).
According to Orvibo, proceeds from this round will be invested in the research and development of intelligent operating systems and AIoT technology, as well as the construction of its smart home product ecosystem and retail platforms. Before this, Orvibo has received funding from well-known institutions such as SAIF Partners, MediaTek, Midea Real Estate, Red Star Macalline, Huaxing Growth Capital, Suofeiya, Fusen Noble-House, Shenzhen Topband and Legend Star.
General Water Tech
General Water Tech (Chinese: 通用净水) on March 21 closed its Series B financing round worth tens of millions of USD, led by GGV Capital and with participation from GaochengCapital.
The round of financing will be used for new technology research and development, supply chain efficiency improvement, service operation construction and international strategic layout of water purification products.
Evowera (Chinese: 一晤未来), an emerging technology company focused on consumer electronics such as toothbrushes, announced its completion of Series A financing round on February 28 for an undisclosed amount. The investors incude Forebright Capital, GL Ventures, Brizan Ventures and CareCapital.
This round of funding will be used for future technology research and development, product iterations and market expansion.
Zijin Mining announced that the company signed a five-year strategic cooperation agreement with Fujian Longjing (Chinese: 龙净环保) on February 25, intending to leverage their respective advantages in terms of brand, capital, resources, technology, market and products. The amount of the investment was not disclosed.
Founded in 1998, Fujian Longking engages in the manufacture, sale, and installation of environment contamination prevention equipment. Besides, the company is also involved in real estate, home decoration and repair, water and electricity investment, and the water conservation.
On February 14, SSZN (Chinese: 深视智能), a machine vision sensor company, received several hundred million CNY in its Series B+ round of financing, jointly led by Matrix Partners and GL Ventures.
This round of funding will be mainly used to increase investment in research and development, accelerate team growth, and enrich product lines. Established in 2014, the company specializes in the development and production of embedded machine vision products, such as China's fastest 3D cameras.
LuminWave (Chinese: 洛微科技) announced toward the end of March the completion of its Series B financing round for hundreds of millions of CNY. Anxin Investment led this financing round, followed by Waniu Capital, Nuoyan Capital, and Seapine Capital, with continued follow-on investment from existing shareholders such as Qingzhou Capital, Huagai Capital, and Cuckoo Capital.
LuminWave is committed to providing the market with pure solid chip-level lidar hardware, chips, and artificial intelligence (AI) sensing algorithms.
At the end of March, China's augmented reality startup Nreal received USD 60 million in a Series C+ funding round, bringing its total amount raised in the last 12 months to USD 200 million. The new investment is led by Alibaba, which has historically been a more hands-on corporate investor than its arch rival Tencent.
Dragon Testing Technology
On March 14, software automation testing tool Dragon Test Technology (Chinese: 龙测科技) announced a Series A financing round worth tens of millions of CNY, led by ZJU Department Fund. Previously, it had received a pre-Series A round of CNY 10 million in its seed round from Plug-and-Play, a US seed incubator.
This round of funding will be mainly used for technology development, marketing and sales team expansion.
On February 23, CZUR (Chinese: 成者科技), an enterprise focusing on smart office, finalized its Series A+ round for tens of millions of CNY. This round of financing was led by Grains Valley Venture Capital, with YM Capital serving as the company's exclusive financial advisor. The fund will be mainly utilized for new product development and globalization.
On January 12, Shanghai Eigencomm (Chinese: 移芯通信) completed CNY 1 billion Series C round of financing. The lead investor was Softbank Vision Fund, with participation from Cathay Capital, Costone Capital, GF Qianhe Qiaobei Chobe Capital, along with existing shareholders Qiming Venture Partners, Fenghuo Capital, Fellow Partners, Xingwang Investment and China Universal Asset Management Capital.
The funds are earmarked for the continuous research and development and innovation of global 5G communication chips.
In January, Stoke Voltaics (Chinese: 远方有光), a leading Chinese developer for outdoor 3C (computer, communications, and consumer) hardware, announced that it has secured CNY 50 million (USD 7.8 million) in its pre-Series A financing round led by Lightspeed China Partners, followed by Shunwei Capital and One Capital.
The proceeds will be used to develop innovative outdoor 3C products while also helping establish the company's brand around the world.
On March 26, HiNa Battery raised CNY 100 million in its Series A financing, intending to build a sodium-ion battery positive and negative electrode material production line with an annual capacity of 2,000 tons. The company will further expand the production scale and reduce the cost of sodium-ion battery materials, extend the sodium-ion battery industry chain, achieve mass production, and capture market share with leading technology.
Founded in 2017, the company has completed two rounds of financing, and the investors include Cash Capital, CASSTAR and Phoenix Tree Capital Group and other well-known investment institutions.
Yeelight (Chinese: 易来), an intelligent lighting enterprise, confirmed on December 29 the completion of its CNY 300 million Series E round of financing. The investors of this round include Light Control Industry Fund, Huatai Securities, New Kinetic Energy Capital, Qingdao Science & Innovation Fund, Huaying VC and Yichen Capital.
Funds raised in this round will be used for channel expansion in domestic and overseas markets, intelligent product research and development, supply chain layout and team recruitment and expansion to further consolidate the company’s position as a leader in the intelligent lighting industry.
Shanghai Hi-Flying Electronics
On January 27, Shanghai Hi-Flying Electronics Technology (Chinese: 上海汉枫电子科技有限公司), a high-tech enterprise specializing in wireless communication, completed a Series B financing round worth several hundred million CNY. The investment was led by Walden International, followed by Haier Capital, with Scheme Capital serving as the financial advisor.
On March 11, an intelligent home appliance manufacturer, Speedfox (Chinese: 追光智造) announced the completion of near-CNY 100 million Series A financing round from Tencent Investment, Sequoia Capital China, BAI Fund, IDG, 5Y Capital, Toutoushidao Investment, Qianhai FoF, K2VC and others.
This round of financing will be used for water technology innovation and intelligent home ecosystem construction.
On March 28, Qadiv (Chinese: 趣安科技) added Anhui Xunfei Yunchuang Technology Co. Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of China’s voice recognition giant iFlytek, as a shareholder, although it did not disclose the amount of this strategic funding round.
Established in April 2019, Qadiv Technology is a provider of intelligent sleeping aid and developer of smart sleep blindfolds, dedicated to the improvement of human sleep and stress reduction.
On March 30, AncSonic (Chinese: 安声科技) raised an undisclosed amount of money from a strategic funding round led by Xiaomi-affiliated Hanxing Venture Capital, boosting the company's registered capital base to approximately CNY 423.52 million.
Founded in 2014, the company is one of the world's leading providers of intelligent noise reduction technology, with more than 200 research and development patents.