Hong Kong-based venture capital firm Horizons Ventures took the lead in an $18-million series A1 financing round in artificial intelligence (AI) services startup Kneron, which has so far raised a total of more than $33 million in funding.
Established in 2015 by Albert Liu, a graduate from the Taiwan National Cheng Kung University, Kneron designs and develops integrated software and hardware AI solutions for smart home, smart surveillance, smartphones, robots, drones, and IoT devices.
Its cloud-independent AI solutions include emotion and behaviour recognition software, smart surveillance SDK, and smart navigation SDK. The startup’s solutions also include a dedicated AI Neural Processing Unit, which it said provides “high computing performance with low power consumption”.
The startup differentiates itself from traditional cloud-based AI solutions providers by moving part of the AI computing power from the cloud to the edge devices. This capability attracted Horizons Ventures , which is an investor in many disruptive companies, including Facebook, Skype, and Siri during the early stage of their development.
“Edge AI will be key to modern-day AI applications by offering fast, efficient and safe AI processing solutions,” said Horizons Ventures’ Jonathan Tam.
Alibaba-backed Knero will use the funds to accelerate product development and collaborate with strategic partners to implement vertical industrial applications with a focus on three major areas: smart home, smart surveillance, and smartphones.
Liu, who worked in R&D and management positions in Qualcomm, Samsung Electronics R&D centre, MStar, and Wireless Information, also revealed that Knero will launch its 3D AI solution in the second half of this year.
The latest funding round follows Kneron’s Series A round that raised over $10 million in November last year and was backed by Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund, CDIB, Himax Technologies, Inc, Qualcomm, Thundersoft, Sequoia Capital, and CYZONE.
In 2016, Kneron released its first Application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) chip for AI, the NPU, and its software with Reconfigurable Artificial Neural Network technology, which uses an advanced algorithm to enable quick implementation of different AI applications.