A new deal is being discussed currently that will see e-commerce giant Alibaba get one step closer to becoming the leading investor in Chinese artificial intelligence (AI) startup, SenseTime. The amount the company is looking to invest is around 1.5 billion yuan ($227 million).
Although Alibaba do want a big slice of the business’ profits, it’s not looking to get involved in the day to day running of the AI startup. According to sources, SenseTime is already valued at more than $2 billion, and is one of the leaders in its field. Having the backing of global telecommunications company Qualcomm may have helped with that.
That’s two major facial recognition startups that the founder of Alibaba, Jack Ma has help develop into a corporate success. The first was Alipay operator, Ant Financial. Already it’s become an investor in Face++, which raised $460 million in total earlier this month. That money will be used towards further research into this kind of AI technology.
As well as being used in mobile phones, facial recognition is quickly becoming adopted in various areas including grocery stores., police surveillance, and of course, financial services. To move forward, SenseTime now needs money to invest in areas such as autonomous driving and image recognition applications.
So far the AI startup has managed to attract around 400 clients and partners to the business. Some of its biggest customers include Qualcomm, smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp, and chipmaker Nvidia Corp. Earlier this year, the AI startup managed to raise $410 million during a funding round, so that should certainly help in its plans to expand.
The world of AI is now said to be the world’s second largest economy, and China is serious about having a large slice of it. A national level plan has been released in China that aims to see the country as a leader in the industry by 2030. Within five years from then, experts predict the AI industry will create as much as 400 billion yuan from economic tradings.
Some of the biggest names in China to take action include Alibaba, Tencent Holdings Ltd., and Baidu Inc. Even the courts at Shanghai are looking to invest in AI technology that is able to validate evidence submitted by both parties.