Artificial Intelligence-focused Baidu Ventures (BV), a unit of Chinese internet search firm Baidu Inc, has reached the first close of its second RMB fund at $317 million, said a CMN report quoting a WeChat post by the company.
The announcement comes two days after Andrew Ng, former chief scientist at Baidu, revealed that he has raised a $175 million fund from venture capital firms New Enterprise Associates, Sequoia Capital and Greylock Partners as well as SoftBank Group Corp. to invest in AI startups.
With the latest fundraise, BV’s total assets under management currently stand at around RMB3 billion ($476 million), the report said.
The Beijing-based company created the venture capital unit in September 2016 and also announced a $200 million sum to invest in artificial intelligence (AI) projects. As an independent fund, the firm focuses on AI and data-enabled companies, as well as broadly transformative and disruptive ideas.
Baidu is betting big on AI technology. The company created a deep-learning research institute in 2013, and more recently has been investing in technology research, setting up facilities focused on big data and AI.
According to Crunchbase data, BV has till date made a total of 18 investments, of which 6 alone were lead investments.
It recently led a $64 million Series B funding in Rimag, a Shenzhen-based medical imaging service provider, and participated in a $10 million seed funding round of San Francisco- and Singapore-based biotech company Engine Biosciences.
Some of its other investments include Jiqi Zhixin, a technology media platform, Aqrose Technology, a machine vision and machine learning technology startup, YI Tunnel, a developer of checkout-free convenience store technologies, and Whalehouse Technology, an automated warehouse solutions provider.