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Business deals

AI startup SenseTime raises $600m from Alibaba-led consortium

Hong Kong-based image-recognition leader sets fundraising record

SenseTime surveillance software that identifies details about people and vehicles is demonstrated at the company's office in Beijing.   © Reuters

Hong Kong-based artificial intelligence startup SenseTime said on Monday it had raised $600 million from Alibaba Group Holding and other investors, in what is reportedly the biggest fundraising round ever in the sector.

Singapore's sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings and Chinese retailer Suning Commerce Group also participated in the round, SenseTime said in a news release. The deal values the three-year-old startup at more than $3 billion, according to Bloomberg. Previous investors include chipmaker Qualcomm.

SenseTime, which is incorporated in Hong Kong but does the bulk of its business in mainland China, uses AI to develop technology that can analyze images of faces and other objects. In December, it partnered with Honda Motor in developing autonomous driving technology.

"Our business at Alibaba is already seeing tangible benefits from our investments in AI and we are committed to further investment," said Joe Tsai, Alibaba's executive vice chairman.

The funding will maximize SenseTime's advantages by "accelerating the development of a global footprint with a larger ecosystem incorporating both domestic and overseas partners," said Li Xu, SenseTime co-founder and chief executive.

Wataru Suzuki

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