Qualcomm Inc to fund SenseTime, a Chinese AI facial recognition startup

Qualcomm Inc is about to invest in Chinese artificial intelligence (AI) startup SenseTime Group.

SenseTime has announced that it has sealed an investment from Qualcomm Inc as part of a funding round that will close later this year. This strategic tie between the two companies on AI will see SenseTime’s proprietary algorithms deployed in smart devices.

Qualcomm has also confirmed the investment in SenseTime, without disclosing the size of the investment.

There were reports last month claiming that SenseTime is planing to raise about $500 million in a new funding round, in what would be the biggest ever such fundraising by an AI startup. As per the experts, this fundraising will value SenseTime at about $2 billion and has drawn interest from prospective investors, including Singapore state investor Temasek.

SenseTime is one of several AI facial recognition firms in Greater China that are rapidly raising capital from local and foreign investors amid a multibillion dollar global drive to develop advanced facial recognition technology.

The company raised $410 million in July in a funding round led by its main backer, Chinese buyout firm CDH Investments, and China’s state-backed fund Sailing Capital.

SenseTime is working on a technology that employs AI to quickly identify and analyze identities using cameras, and has been used in limited tests by Chinese authorities to track and capture suspects in public spaces such as airports and festivals.

Recently, the company has been serving 40 local Chinese governments as clients. SenseTime is seeking to expand overseas, including possible plans for an ASEAN headquarters in Singapore.

Qualcomm has already signed $12 billion worth of deals with three Chinese mobile handset makers on the sidelines of a state visit to Beijing by U.S. President Donald Trump.