Chinese robotics Jaka fueled by Saudi prosperity7 in global push – TechCrunch


Jaka Robotics, a Chinese startup that makes collaborative robots, has just launched a major Series D funding round of over $150 million from a range of heavyweight investors to help it grow to scale. world.

The round is led by Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek, TrueLight Capital, Softbank Vision Fund II and Prosperity7 Ventures, a growth fund under Aramco Ventures, which is an investment arm of Saudi state oil company Aramco.

Collaborative robots, called “cobots”, are intended to work alongside humans rather than in isolation. Based in Shanghai and Beijing, Jaka’s robotic arms can help humans with a range of tasks, from assembling electronic parts to pouring a coffee machine to wrapping smartphones.

Jaka plans to dedicate his new funds to R&D and global expansion, which makes Prosperity7’s investment all the more important.

“We have the unique experience to help [companies] to go global by leveraging the Aramco ecosystem’s global outlets and our strong connection to Saudi Arabia with the Middle East,” said Scott Cai, Managing Director of Prosperity7 who has worked at SoftBank and Baidu, at TechCrunch.

“Today, the Middle East is one of the major developed markets that also have very good relations with China, and many Chinese entrepreneurs are trying to establish themselves in the Middle East,” the investor continued. “We can help bring these technology companies to these markets.”

Jaka already counts Toyota and Schneider among its close partners, who co-develop large-scale applications with the startup using its robotic solutions.

Although Cai could not disclose Jaka’s financial performance, he said the robot maker’s growth has been “very impressive” over the past few years. Foreign companies currently make up “a significant portion” of Jaka’s revenue and are expected to reach a 50% share in the long term.

Aramco in China

Founded in 2014, Jaka is exactly the type of tech startup Prosperity7 is looking for in China. Saudi Aramco has been in China’s oil and gas and chemicals market since the 1990s, and last year it began deploying capital through Prosperity7 to bet on Chinese technology that can “solve big problems on a global level and generate huge returns”.

Jaka’s robots can perform heavy lifting work which is useful for energy companies in the Middle East. In oil drilling, for example, rock cores are still manually transported for testing. “It’s not efficient at all,” Cai suggested, adding that robots can perform better in this type of work.

Companies like Jaka, which is part of China’s national goal to improve the efficiency of its traditional industries, are coveted by many investors. Prosperity7 believes that its ability to invest in the long term gives it a unique appeal for startups.

“Prosperity7 is backed by Saudi Aramco. We take a long-term view and build long-term relationships,” Cai said.

Being relatively new to China isn’t a downside for Prosperity7, Cai said, as his investment firm seeks opportunities in “disruptive technologies,” such as the Industrial Internet (a Chinese term for the use of advanced technologies such as smart sensors to improve productivity in industrial production), robots and medical technologies.

Big USD funds operating in China have focused on the lucrative consumer internet space over the past two decades, in which Tencent and Alibaba have given rise to an internet boom. Many of them have also started to look into semiconductors, autonomous driving and other advanced technologies, but they too are new to the field.

Cai also seems indifferent to the current economic downturn in China, saying “it’s normal to see ups and downs in the market.”

“We always believe in the long-term trend of technological progress in China, and more and more world-class enterprises will become winners in the Chinese market.”

Tech

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