Oriza, China Minsheng Investment Lead $76M Round In Chinese Voice Recognition Firm AISpeech

Suzhou city-based investment holding company Oriza Holdings and China Minsheng Investment Group have led a RMB500 million (US$76 million) round in AISpeech, a Chinese artificial intelligence start-ups focused on speech recognition.

Shenzhen Venture Capital Co., Foxconn Technology Group and Taiwanese fabless semiconductor company MediaTek Inc. also participated in the round, according to an announcement.

AISpeech, also based in Suzhou city in coastal Jiangsu province, was co-founded in 2007 by two University of Cambridge graduates Gao Shixing and Yu Kai. The company focuses on natural language interaction technologies including speech recognition, speech synthesis, voice-print recognition, natural language understanding and processing, and intelligent dialogue.

Its technologies are applied in smart speakers, robots and Internet-connected vehicles. It has more than 400 employees and research centers in Beijing, Shenzhen and Shanghai.

Founder Gao said the firm has broken even in 2017 and expects to make profits this year. He also said the firm has a clear plan for an initial public offering in China, according to the announcement.

The proceeds of this round will be used for technology innovations and hiring. The firm is also developing its own AI chip, which will tape-out in the second half of the year.

In 2016, the firm raised a RMB200 million (US$30 million) new financing round from undisclosed investors.

In May, Unisound, another Chinese AI firm focused on voice recognition technology, raised a US$100 million series C round led by China Electronics Health Fund, a fund established by China Electronics Corporation Data (CEC Data).