China Digest: AI unicorn Yitu bags $30m; North Ocean Photonics nabs $28m

Closeup photo of white robot arm. Source: Franck V./Unsplash

Chinese AI unicorn Yitu Technology has secured $30 million in new funding round, while North Ocean Photonics has raised 200 million yuan ($28 million) in a Series B round of financing.

AI unicorn Yitu Technology secures $30m

Chinese AI unicorn Yitu Technology has secured $30 million in a new funding round led by CR-CCT Industry Pilot Fund, an investment vehicle co-managed by China Resources Capital Management and China Chengtong (HK).

The fund will “continuously target [to invest in] high-tech companies to create synergies” for parent companies and help companies with self-developed technologies to scale up, said China Resources Capital Management in a recent statement.

CR-CCT Industry Pilot Fund, which reached the first closing in November 2019, operates as a private equity fund that backs technology companies in China and worldwide. The fund is jointly managed by China Resources Capital Management, an investment unit of Chinese state-owned conglomerate China Resources, and China Chengtong (HK), the Hong Kong subsidiary of state-owned China Chengtong Holdings Group.

Yitu Technology, founded in 2012, adopts computer vision, natural language processing (NLP) and semiconductor technologies to provide solutions to industries like public security, healthcare, finance, retail, and chip development – application areas that Beijing pledged to develop and support with substantial government funding and procurements.

The company has introduced the Coronavirus Intelligent Evaluation System, an AI-enabled imaging product that has been deployed in dozens of public medical institutions to help diagnose the COVID-19. The system uses innovative artificial lung quantitative analysis technology to provide clinical experts with infection and focal quantitative analysis, as well as curative effect evaluation services based on CT images.

Shanghai-based Yitu Technology reached a valuation of 15 billion yuan ($2.11 billion) after the company closed $100 million in a strategic investment from China Industrial Asset Management Limited in July 2018. The investor is a private equity platform of China’s Industrial Bank and China Industrial International Trust Limited.

In June 2018, the company also raised $100 million in a Series C+ round from ICBC International Holdings Limited, investment bank SPDB International, and Gaocheng Capital, which focuses on technological innovation and corporate service in China.

Some of its earliest venture capital backers include Beijing-based ZhenFund, Chinese venture capital firm Gaorong Capital, and Sequoia Capital China.

China’s North Ocean Photonics raises $28m in Series B round

North Ocean Photonics, a Chinese company that develops micro-optics and optical integration devices, announced on Monday the completion of 200 million yuan ($28 million) in a Series B round.

Beijing-based investment firm Joy Capital, Oriza FOFs, the fund of funds management platform under Chinese investment bank Oriza Holdings, and CMB International Capital, a Hong Kong-based financial subsidiary of China Merchants Bank, poured money into the Series B round.

Existing shareholders including Chinese venture capital companies Kinzon Capital, Chenhui Venture Partners, and Vision Plus Capital, as well as US-based venture capital firm Walden International, participated in the investment, according to a statement.

Proceeds will be used to accelerate the company’s research and development efforts in integrated optics and wafer-level optics (WLO), to finance the expansion of its R&D centre, and to strengthen cooperation with partners.

The Shanghai-based company will continue to focus on 3D imaging, augmented reality (AR), and new-generation optical display technologies.

In May 2018, North Ocean Photonics completed a Series A2 round from Vision Plus Capital, Walden International, and CAS Star, the investment vehicle of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), per the company website. Financial terms of the previous round remained undisclosed.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.