The Financial Times and Nikkei published a great article (paywall) looking at China’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) market. The headline says it all – over the past four years, Chinese AI companies have raised a combined $30 billion in venture funding. And while the article does not specify how many companies this encompasses, it mentions that China currently has over 100 ‘Unicorns’ (companies valued at over $1 billion), and that notes that “most of these” are AI start-ups. This is, to put it mildly, a lot of money.
Now to be clear, this covers “AI” companies broadly including many that are not chip companies. Most of the specific names mentioned in the article are hardware companies of one sort or another. From our research, we believe that there are at least 200 chip companies in China tackling AI in some form or another. Even if two-thirds of that $30 billion went to software and data companies, it should be clear by now (and here) that China is spending a lot of money to ‘leapfrog’ ahead of the AI chip market. And it has probably already accomplished this.
We think this is an important topic so we want to dig a bit deeper on the theme, because we think this is one area where China is emerging as a global player in semis.