Cambricon canters to nine-figure series B round

Alibaba Innovation Ventures returned to back deep learning chip developer Cambricon’s series B round, which has attracted hundreds of millions of dollars.

China-based artificial intelligence chipset developer Cambricon Technologies has secured hundreds of millions of dollars in series B funding from investors including e-commerce firm Alibaba, China Money Network reported this week.

SDIC Venture Capital, a subsidiary of state-owned investment holding firm China Reform Holdings, co-led the round with the Chinese government-owned Capital Venture Investment Fund and its vehicle Guoxin Qidi Fund.

CICC Capital, Citic Securities Goldstone Investment Fund and TCL Capital, a fund owned by academic governing body and think tank Chinese Academy of Sciences, also took part together with a range of unnamed existing backers.

Alibaba participated in the round, which valued Cambricon at $2.5bn, through its Alibaba Innovation Ventures subsidiary.

Cambricon has developed a processor specifically designed for deep learning applications. The chip, the third iteration of which was launched last month, can be integrated into a variety of products including smartphones, autonomous vehicles and drones.

The company has also created Cambricon MLU100, a chip for data centres powering the cloud, which is capable of handling artificial intelligence applications such as sound, image and natural language processing.

Cambricon was spun out from the Institute of Computing Technology at Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2016. It raised $100m in an August 2017 series A round led by SDIC Chuangye Investment Management, part of the Chinese government’s State Development & Investment.

The series A round also included an unnamed subsidiary of Alibaba as well as Lenovo Capital and Incubator Group, a branch of consumer electronics producer Lenovo, and robotics technology provider Zhongke Tuling Century Beijing Technology.

CAS Investment, the investment arm of Chinese Academy of Sciences, also contributed to the series A round alongside Oriza Seed Venture Capital and Yonghua Capital.

IT product developer iFlytek, Oriza and Yonghua had previously provided an eight-figure renminbi amount of pre-series A (RMB10m = $1.55m at present rates) funding in 2016.

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