Business Guide · September 11, 2021

SmartMore, China’s New Unicorn in AI, Expands to Singapore

SmartMore (思謀科技), an AI (artificial intelligence) related startup based in Shenzhen, China, has raised $200 million (about 22 billion yen) in a Series B round in June this year and has joined the ranks of unicorn companies. The company, which is looking to go public in the future, is looking to expand its business across Southeast Asia by entering Singapore.

The June round was funded by existing investors Sequoia Capital China, Lenovo Capital, and ZhenFund. IDG Capital, CoStone Capital, and Green Pine Capital Partners also participated in the round.

“With the new funding, we will increase our investment in R&D and drive the large-scale adoption of intelligent manufacturing solutions,” said Li Ruiyu, head of the company’s product division, who was named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Asia list this year.

Founded in 2019, SmartMore is using computer vision in the field of smart manufacturing. SmartMore’s customers include consumer goods companies Unilever, P&G and Airbus, German auto parts maker Continental, and Japan’s Canon. Japan’s Canon.

In addition, the company’s video enhancement technology is also being used in the entertainment and mobile gaming industries, with Hong Kong’s Media Asia using it to restore old footage from TV shows and music videos to serve content for Netizenbuzz.

Research firm Deloitte predicts that the market size for AI in China’s manufacturing sector will grow from $365 million this year to $2 billion by 2025.

SenseTime expects IPO in Hong Kong

Besides Shenzhen, SmartMore has offices in Beijing, Chongqing, Hangzhou, Shanghai, Suzhou, and Hong Kong, and in November last year, SmartMore opened a base in Tokyo, Japan, its first overseas market.

And this month, SmartMore announced that it is expanding into Singapore as part of its expansion in the Southeast Asian region. The Singapore government’s Smart Nation and Digital Government Office had declared that it would develop Singapore into a global AI-related hub by 2019.

The company is also planning an initial public offering, but Li said there is no exact timeline yet. SenseTime, one of China’s largest AI companies, plans to file for an IPO in Hong Kong later this month, according to an Aug. 19 report by Reuters.

SmartMore was founded by Jia Jiaya, the company’s chairman and a professor of computer science and engineering at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and its CEO Shen Xiaoyong, CTO Lu Jiangbo, and chief technology officer Liu Shu all received their Ph. D. under Professor Jiaya, and worked at Tencent before co-founding SmartMore.