China is fighting hard for that number one position to be leaders of the artificial intelligence (AI) global market. Massive efforts have been seen by the country over the past 12 months alone to boost AI developments around China, and experts expect it’s only just the tip of the iceberg.
The country’s largest facial recognition company, Megvii, otherwise known as Face++, has just secured funding led by Chinese state fund, And Financial and Foxconn Technology worth a whopping $460 million. In terms of AI startup investments, that’s quite a substantial amount. However, that’s nothing compared to the $2 billion that the company’s been valued at.
Megvii was founded back in 2011 and is short for Mega Vision. Founders of the company are Qi Yin and Wenbin Tang. The Beijing-based startup is also responsible for Alipay’s “scan your face to pay” feature. It currently provides face-scanning systems to the likes of Lenovo Group Ltd and has already attracted interest from the Chinese government authorities too who may look to use the technology to detect crimes and threats before they happen.
Others who have also joined in on the investment of Megvii are Russia-China Investment Fund, and South Korea’s SK Group. The Chinese state capital venture fund is a large state-controlled funding pool that invested 200 billion yuan ($30.17 billion) last year when it was created to boost investments in Chinese AI startups. As of yet, the Chinese national venture fund, Ant Financial, or Foxconn are to release any official comments.
The big push in funding comes at a time when the Chinese government is pushing hard the development of AI technology in the country. Facial recognition technology is booming right now in China and more and more startups are emerging that are focusing on this branch of AI.
Investments are high everywhere in China at the moment in regards to AI. Earlier this year in July, Rival Sensetime Group raised $410 million from Chinese investors., and at that point was the largest single financing round for any AI company. Well, it looks like Megvii have smashed that record. I wonder who will be next? Watch this space to find out.