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AI Chip Developer Iluvatar CoreX Carries out Series B led by Princeville Capital
COVID-19 and China
Data need hardware, and this door swings both ways. Image credit: Manuel Geissinger/Pexels

Iluvatar CoreX (天数智芯), one of China’s AI chip industry dark horses, has reportedly secured another influx of ready money, closing its Series B round of funding. Market expansion and R&D are stated to be the main directions the newly raised capital will be placed at.

Global investment organization Princeville Capital led this financing round, which also saw participation from existing investor Centurium Capital (大钲资本), Bangsheng Equity Capital (邦盛资本) and Chinese electrical equipment behemoth Shanghai Electric Group (2727:HK, 601727:SH).

This is the third funding event for Iluvatar. According to investment information aggregator TianYanCha, it raised an undisclosed amount of money from Centurium and the industrial fund controlled by Didi Chuxing’s local nemesis UCAR (优车产业基金) in May 2019. Two years before, it carried out a Series A investment round led by asset management firm Cypress House (柏坊资产). The amount of money gained at that time also remains unknown.

Founded in 2015, the company has been running its diversified business based on a combination of hardware and software. The core product mix includes four categories: ‘chip products’, ‘system software’, ‘appliances’ and ‘software platform’. It provides cloud architecture as well as full-cycle intelligent manufacturing and intelligent education solutions.

Li Yunpeng (李云鹏), founder and CEO of Iluvatar, is an AI and big data expert with abundant experience in the field. An Oracle alumnus, he spent a decade working for the software giant’s database division in Silicon Valley.

"AI gave us a very big opportunity to catch up with the global tech leaders," said Mr. Li in an interview earlier this year. "Like many other engineers with a technical background, I was determined to return to China and start my own business to enhance the country's 'soft power' at a more fundamental level."

This international background has helped his four-year-old company to develop a global partnership network, which includes Microsoft (MSFT:NASDAQ), Huawei, JD.com (JD:NASDAQ) and the like. Headquartered in Nanjing, it also has R&D centers in Shanghai, Beijing, Silicon Valley and an office in Ningbo.

Last year, Iluvatar won the 'China’s Chip Industry Innovative Enterprise 2018' award issued by EO Company, EqualOcean's sister publication, for its high-end computer chip ‘Big Island’ – an excellent workhorse for data centers.

As China makes countless attempts to take its digital economy to the next level, enterprises are also paddling out to catch the wave. Rapidly emerging fields like 5G and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) are creating an extended space for both chipmakers and AI software companies. It is safe to say that AI chip developers will be perfectly located within the intelligent circuits of future business ecosystems.

Management consultancy Monitor Deloitte projects global semiconductor sales revenues will reach USD 542 billion by 2022. The firm estimates that data processing and communication electronics will account for over 64% of this number (or nearly USD 347 billion). The adoption of safety-related electronics systems in the automotive sector is expected to become another major growth driver for the global semiconductor industry.

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