Cinnamon, a Japanese startup that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to promote productivity and creativity in the workplace, on Friday announced that it has raised $9 million in equity and debt financing backed by multiple investors, including SBI Investment, and major Japanese banks.
In a statement posted on its website, Cinnamon said, the fundraising is part of its plan to raise a total of $10 million for its series B, which is targeted to be completed by the end of August.
The $9-million fresh fund was raised through equity finance from Capital Funds of SBI Investment, Corporate Venture Capital of FFG Venture Business Partners, ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation, Sony Innovation Fund, and TIS. It received debt finance from Mizuho Bank and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation.
Miku Hirano, who co-founded Naked Technology and then sold it to Japanese internet giant Mixi, established Cinnamon in 2016. Previously referred to as Spicy Cinnamon, the company developed the photo sharing apps “Seconds” and “PicChat”, but then changed its business model from targeting consumers to businesses.
With the new investments, Cinnamon said it will hire global AI talent, strengthen its core technologies, and invest more in R&D to create new products like voice recognition, among others.
Cinnamon’s core product is the Flax Scanner, an auto-documentation tool that allows users to extract information from application forms, documents, and email, and then create formatted documents. The tool applies to both hand-writing and text data.
“AI still cannot perform like human brains but is already competing or surpassing humans for the limited areas and objectives. Cinnamon aims to extend human potential for more productive and creative work by utilizing the power of Artificial Intelligence,” the company said on its website.
IDC Japan estimated that the annual growth of Japanese investment in cognitive AI systems will be growing at an average of 73 per cent annually through 2021, resulting in a market worth ¥250 trillion ($2.3 trillion) in 2021.
To support the growth of AI startups in Japan, Deepcore, a Japanese AI-focused incubator announced the launch of a ¥6 billion ($55 million) fund targeting seed and early-stage firms.
SBI Investment, one of the backers of Cinnamon’s latest fund round, also established a new fund in January to invest in AI and blockchain firms, with a target corpus of ¥50 billion ($452 million).