SoftBank Ventures Asia signals greater focus on Chinese tech start-ups with new Beijing unit – Yahoo Finance

SoftBank Ventures Asia has formed a new subsidiary in China this month, signalling a bigger commitment towards its early-stage venture investing in the country since launching a dedicated US$285 million fund in 2018.

The new unit will be based in the China-Japan Innovation Cooperation Demonstration Zone in the capital, the company said. The tech zone is a key plank in China’s five-year blueprint to enhance its leadership in areas such as chip design and smart-city infrastructure.

The decision to form a Beijing entity was an independent move by SoftBank Ventures Asia, without any involvement from its parent company in Japan, a spokeswoman based in Seoul said, declining to elaborate on headcount addition.

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SoftBank Ventures Asia has maintained an investment team in China since 2018, she added. It manages US$1.3 billion in 17 funds that have invested in more than 250 global start-ups in fields such as artificial intelligence, internet-of-things, and smart robotics, according to its website.

In China, its US$285 million China Ventures Fund and other offshoots are invested into startups such as handset-shared power-bank maker Energy Monster, e-commerce site Nice, and indoor robot developer Keenon Robotics.

The “localisation” move by SoftBank Ventures Asia could help elevate the profile of the Demonstration Zone in Beijing, which provides support services to Japanese enterprises involved in tech incubation programmes and testing commercial applications of new technologies.

The zone targets start-ups in healthcare development, digital economy and advanced intelligent manufacturing. It seeks to provide a base for Chinese and Japanese corporations to deepen their collaboration, according to a report by China Daily in August.

SoftBank Ventures Asia’s recent activities included a funding round in Chinese robo-van maker Neolix in August with other investors such as CICC Capital and Glory Ventures.

Tokyo-based SoftBank Group, founded by billionaire Masayoshi Son, runs a separate tech-focused venture unit known as the Vision Fund with over US$100 billion in capital.

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2021 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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