Chinese speech recognition company iFlytek raises $407m funding

Photo: Ilyass SEDDOUG/Unsplash

Chinese artificial intelligence (AI) company iFlytek has raised $407 million from a state-backed industry fund and several provincial government funds via a private placement, according to a filing on Shenzhen Stock Exchange.

The company has issued 108 million shares at 27.10 yuan per share to 10 investors including multiple state-backed investment firms besides China Asset Management, the filing said.

The funds raised will be used to improve technology in open platforms for smart speech, its next-generation cognitive technology, and service robots.

Founded in 1999, Shenzhen-listed iFlytek develops voice recognition technology for translation and service robots that can react to human voice orders.

Having focused on voice recognition technology over the past 20 years, the company provides its experience and know-how to partner with local governments across the country to facilitate China’s strategy of promoting frontier tech.

Shenzhen-listed iFlytek, which has featured in MIT’s list of smartest companies, has a market value of Rmb62bn ($9bn). It has spent Rmb251m on research and development last year — more than twice its net profit of Rmb125m.

Earlier, the firm had announced a RMB1.02 billion ($150 million) fund to invest in software and hardware startups that look to apply artificial intelligence in consumer electronics, healthcare and other industries.