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Chinese AI chip maker Horizon Robotics raises $600 million from SK Hynix, others

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – the Chinese chip maker Horizon Robotics said on Wednesday it had raised $600 million in the latest funding round, making the valuation of $3 billion, amid a press of Chinese companies and the government to stimulate the semiconductor industry.

The fundraising round was led by the South Korean chip maker SK Hynix Inc and several “first-tier Chinese car manufacturers, while other participants included China Oceanwide Capital, Citic Securities’ A-Belt-One-Road Fund, and the Minsheng Capital, Horizon said in a statement on its website.

The investment comes as Beijing and Washington continue to spar over technology, policy, fueling Chinese policy-makers, the desire to be less dependent on American technology.

Horizon expected “breakthroughs” in the coming year for the automotive-grade processor architecture and third-generation processor architecture, a company spokeswoman said.

In November, the Financial Times reported that the Horizon Robotics was to increase to $1 billion, which would lift its valuation to $ 3 billion to $ 4 billion.

That same month, the company said that the signing of a “cooperation agreement” with South Korean telecommunications company SK Telecom. SK Telecom and SK Hynix share the same parent company, SK Group.

Horizon Robotics is specialized in making artificial intelligence (AI) powered chips for cars and cameras.

Founder and CEO Yu Kai led the autonomous driving unit of Baidu Inc., the leading chinese search engine.

Horizon has been working with Audi to develop the hardware and software that helped the German carmaker to receive the test license for autonomous driving on public roads in Wuxi, China.

China’s tech sector is currently highly dependent on imported chips. Beijing, under the “Made in 2025” policy, has called for more self-reliance in the sector. Several companies, in addition to the Horizon, are at the forefront of this pressure.

Reporting by Josh Horwitz; Editing by Stephen Coates

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