China’s demand for industrial robots is growing at an unprecedented rate. In 2015, the unit sales of industrial robots in China surpassed aggregate sales in Europe, according to the International Federation of Robotics. Though the Chinese market is largely dominated by foreign manufacturers, domestic makers are slowly expanding their market share — from 25% in 2013 to 31% last year — according to the IFR report.
China-based manufacturers are hopping on this trend and also branching out to related fields in AI and consumer robots. China’s home appliances giant, Midea Group, entered into a bid this year to buy German industrial robotics manufacturer Kuka AG. Investors like Sequoia Capital China (which has invested in several China-based robotics companies, including Quotient Kinematics Machine) and Intel are also betting on this trend, with Intel announcing this month that it will invest 10 million yuan ($1.5M) every year incubating consumer and industrial robotics companies.
In this light, we used our database to identify 9 startups to watch that are building industrial, service, and social robots in China.
Beijing-based Turing Robot, which specializes in natural language processing and robotic operating systems, now plans to bring social robots to people’s homes. The company recently announced the launch of companion robots for kids, with more products set to release later this year.
Sequoia Capital China also backed Shenzhen-based robot-kit maker Makeblock and Dongguan-based enterprise robotics startup Quotient Kinematics Machine. Foxconn backed social robot A.I. Nemo and cloud-based robotic intelligence startup CloudMinds.
The table below lists some of the startups working in this space:
|Company||Description||Disclosed Equity Funding||Select Investors|
|Ninebot||Develops personal transportation robots||$80M||Sequoia Capital China, Shunwei Capital Partners, WestSummit Capital, Xiaomi and Intel Capital|
|CloudMinds||Makes service robots with a cloud-based “brain”. The company will reportedly launch a full-service housekeeping robot by 2025.||$30M||Foxconn Technology Company, Hon Hai Precision Industry, Kaixuan Capital, Softbank China Venture Capital and Walden International|
|A.I. Nemo||Manufactures a desktop robot with a webcam to schedule video calls with family members, track movement of children across the room, and read out text messages among other things.||$10M||Chengwei Capital, China’s Innovation Works, Foxconn Technology Company and Lightspeed China Partners|
|The company developed the Turing operating system and is now expanding into the consumer robotics sector||$7.6M||Alpha Animation & Culture|
|Makeblock||Hardware startup that provides a construction platform with electronic modules to build and program robots||$6.02M||Sequoia Capital China, Northern Light Venture Capital, HAX|
|Quotient Kinematics Machine||Enterprise robots for applications in food processing, glass production, sorting and packaging, among other industries||$4.9M||SAIF Partners,
Sequoia Capital China
|Dobot||Dobot is a robotic arm that follows instructions and performs tasks like drawing, writing, and fetching.||$3M||NA|
|Hanson Robotics||Hanson Robotics, a National Science Foundation grantee, makes artificially intelligent humanoid robots||$0.12M||Disney Accelerator|
|UBTECH Robotics||Launched the Alpha1S and 2 humanoid family robot series with cloud services platform and intelligent voice interfaces||NA||Qiming Venture Partners|
(featured image credit: Getty Images/3alexd)
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