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China’s metaverse generates hype | China Venture Roundup Volume 54

Written by KrASIA Venture Roundup Published on     3 mins read

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China Venture Roundup Volume 50 covers China’s investment activity from September 13 to September 19, 2021.

Find out what moves China tech with us. We round up what you need to know about the local venture scene every Thursday at 8:00 a.m. (GMT +8), covering major investment stories, MNC partnerships, noteworthy startups, industries with the most investments for the week, and more.

Here’s a preview of what you’ll receive in your inbox. Get the full picture by subscribing to China Venture Roundup.

Top Investment Story

DeepRoute.ai (元戎启行)

Shenzhen-based autonomous driving startup DeepRoute.ai has raised USD 300 million in a Series B funding round led by Alibaba Group and other venture capital firms, including Jeneration Capital and a fund under Geely Auto Group.

Founded in 2019, DeepRoute.ai provides L4 autonomous driving solutions—where human intervention is unnecessary in predefined, geofenced areas—for automakers and mobility service companies. It has cooperated with carmakers like Dongfeng Motor and Geely Automobile to jointly develop robotaxis, as well as ride-hailing platform Caocao Mobility. DeepRoute.ai also received government approval to offer robotaxi services in California, with operations expected to begin later this year.

DeepRoute.ai’s long-term strategy involves developing its robotaxi business and urban logistics services, including the use of self-driving medium-duty trucks.

Startups on our Watchlist

Keenon Robotics (擎朗智能)

Founded in 2010, Keenon Robotics develops delivery robots for settings like hotels and dining establishments. It also produces intelligent delivery solutions for various industries, like real estate, healthcare, and hospitality.

The Shanghai-based company is a leader in the commercial robots market, which is expected to be worth USD 27.7 billion by 2023 and has shipped more than 20,000 units to clients in markets including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore. An early mover in the space, Kennon Robotics has advantages in core technology, supply chain, sales channels, and operation services, while its business benefited from the boost in demand for contactless services during the pandemic.

Last week, Keenon Robotics raised USD 200 million in a Series D financing round led by the SoftBank Vision Fund, with participation from CICC Alpha and Prosperity7 Ventures.

KrASIA News Picks

The metaverse—a term used to describe increasingly immersive and interactive online environments—is a fluid concept that can be applied in gaming, socialization, entertainment, and professional contexts. In China, a host of startups are at the forefront of metaverse creation, building the nascent infrastructure of this virtual realm in the form of 3D graphics engines, digital content production platforms, and NFT exchanges.

Investors are taking notice, especially as companies are becoming more and more creative. Shenzhen-listed game developer Zhongqingbao recently released a teaser of its new title, Brew Master, in which players create and run their own wine-making operation. Adding an offline dimension to the gaming experience, the studio partnered with actual wineries to make players’ products available for sale in real life. Although further details on Brew Master were scant, the company’s entrance into the metaverse has been embraced by investors, causing its stock price to jump 120% in the week following the release of Brew Master’s teaser.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. As the concept matures and enters the mainstream, metaverse applications will evolve to cover a diverse spectrum of use cases.

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