Jaka Robotics, a Chinese startup that makes collaborative robots, just secured a massive Series D funding round of over $150 million from a group of heavyweight investors to help it expand globally.
The round was led by Singapore sovereign wealth fund Temasek, TrueLight Capital, Softbank Vision Fund II and Prosperity7 Ventures, a growth fund under Aramco Ventures, an investment subsidiary of state-owned oil company Aramco’s Saudi Arabic.
Collaborative Robots, called “cobots”, which means working alongside humans instead of in isolation. Based in Shanghai and Beijing, Jaka’s robotic arm can assist humans in a wide range of tasks, from assembling electronic parts to pouring from coffee machines to packing smartphones.
Jaka plans to devote its new financing to R&D and global expansion, which makes Prosperity7’s investment all the more substantial.
“We have a unique platform to help [companies] to go global by leveraging the Aramco ecosystem’s worldwide resellers and our close Saudi connection to the Middle East,” said Scott Cai, managing director at Prosperity7 who used to be jobs at SoftBank and Baidu, told TechCrunch.
“Today, the Middle East is one of the big developed markets that also has a very good relationship with China and many Chinese entrepreneurs are trying to get their first foothold in the Middle East,” the investor continued. “We can help bring those tech companies into those markets.”
Jaka has considered Toyota and Schneider as its close partners, who are co-developing large-scale applications with the startup using their 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 businesses currently account for “a significant portion” of Jaka’s revenue and are expected to reach 50% market share in the long term.
Aramco in China
Founded in 2014, Jaka is exactly the kind of tech startup Prosperity7 is looking for in China. Saudi Aramco has been involved in China’s oil, gas and chemicals market since the 1990s and last year it started deploying capital through Prosperity7 to bet on Chinese technology that could “solve the problems”. big problem on a global level and generate big profits”.
Jaka’s robot can perform heavy lifting jobs, which is very useful for energy companies in the Middle East. For example, in oil drilling, rock cores are still being transported manually for testing. “It’s not efficient at all,” Cai suggested, adding that robots could do better in this kind of work.
Companies like Jaka, in line with China’s national goal of improving efficiency in the country’s traditional industries, are coveted by many investors. Prosperity7 believes its ability to invest in the long-term gives it a unique appeal to startups.
“Prosperity7 is backed by Saudi Aramco. Cai said we have foresight and established long-term relationships.
Cai’s relative newness to China is not a disadvantage for Prosperity7, Cai calculates, as his investment outfit looks for opportunities in “disruptive technologies,” such as the industrial internet (algorithm). Chinese language for using advanced technology such as smart sensors to improve productivity in industrial production), robotics and medtech.
Large USD funds operating in China have focused on the lucrative consumer internet space over the past two decades, in which the likes of Tencent and Alibaba have boomed the internet. Many of them have also begun to look at semiconductors, autopilots, and other cutting-edge technologies, but they are also new technologies.
Cai also seems unconcerned about the current economic slowdown in China, saying “it’s normal to see the market rise and fall”.
“We still believe in the long-term trend of technological progress in China, and more and more world-class companies will become winners from the Chinese market.”