Tech Transformers

Intel invests $67M in 8 Chinese start-ups

Visitors take pictures next to the Intel logo outside of company headquarters in Santa Clara, California.
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Intel has invested $67 million in eight Chinese companies including a robotics company and the firm behind the Segway, the U.S. chipmaker said Thursday, as it continues to ramp up investment in the world's second-largest economy.

The companies Intel Capital – the firm's investment arm – has backed span across industries from smart devices to data analytics.

Intel said the following eight companies are ones that have received or will receive investment:

  • 99cloud – a cloud operations and solution company
  • Bluebank – a hardware company that designs smartphones and tablets for other firms to brand and use
  • Hampoo – a Shenzhen-based firm that makes components for other companies to make smart internet-connected devices
  • Ninebot – a company that specializes in "short-distance personal transportation equipment" such as unicycles. Ninebot acquired Segway earlier this year and raised an $80 million round of funding from Xiaomi and Sequoia
  • Nuovo Film – a company that makes a synthetic film to go on devices such as tablets, wearables or coffee tables and enables touch screen technology such as 3D Force Touch, like that on the new iPhone 6s
  • PraFly – a robotics company producing control systems that are used in areas such as energy management and unmanned driving training.
  • AWcloud – an enterprise cloud company
  • Telelink – a semiconductor firm that produces low-power chips for Internet of Things (IoT) devices
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The latest funding deals come after Intel invested $60 million into Chinese drone maker Yuneec in August, in response to companies such as Amazon exploring the potential for unmanned aircraft.

Intel's latest investments show an emphasis on the areas which they have been focusing on in recent times – the Internet of Things, cloud computing and big data analytics. The U.S. tech giant recently unveiled its latest range of semiconductors with a new line focused on improving the performance of tablets and laptops. And earlier this year, Intel unveiled a tiny chip called Curie, specifically for wearable devices.

The investments in China allow Intel access to the biggest companies coming out of the country while the start-ups will get access to the U.S. firm's expertise.

"These companies now have the opportunity to leverage Intel Capital's business development programs, global network, technology expertise and brand capital to support their development and drive innovation across exciting next-generation technology categories," Arvind Sodhani, executive vice president of Intel and president of Intel Capital, said in a press release.