Artificial Intelligence: 3 Companies to Watch in Asia


January 11, 2024

Several pioneering companies are at the forefront of artificial intelligence (AI) innovation, creating technologies that could transform various sectors and redefine the interaction between humans and machines. As the AI field expands rapidly, a multitude of new entrants are making significant impacts. This article spotlights three such artificial intelligence companies to watch based in Asia, showcasing their transformative capabilities, groundbreaking AI technologies, and aspirational objectives.

Jidu Automobile

Founded in 2021, Jidu Automobile, a Chinese smart electric car manufacturer, has accumulated a total of £294.82 million in funding. This includes a significant contribution from a Series A funding round led by Geely and Baidu on January 26th, 2022. The company originated as a collaborative venture between Geely and Baidu in March 2021, with an initial investment exceeding $300 million.

In the earlier part of 2023, Jidu unveiled its inaugural models, the Robo-01 and the Robo-02. The Robo-01, an electric SUV, is equipped with dual electric drives that produce a combined 400 kW and a 100 kWh CATL battery. It’s anticipated to have a 600 km range under Chinese standards.

The Robo-02, on the other hand, is an electric sedan. Its precise specifications are still under wraps, but it has the potential to exceed the SUV’s range, especially if it employs a similar drive system and benefits from better aerodynamics.

These vehicles are designed to function as robotic cars, employing the use of advanced AI technology. Powered by Geely’s SEA hardware platform for electric drive, they are distinguished by Baidu’s integration of advanced driving features and connectivity software. Notably, the Robo-02 abandons conventional door handles, instead allowing doors to be opened via voice commands or a Bluetooth-connected smartphone.

Baichuan AI

Founded in April 2023 by Wang Xiaochuan, the brain behind the search engine Sogou, the Chinese enterprise Baichuan swiftly emerged as one of the pioneers to secure approval from Beijing for public deployment of chatbots in August. Since its launch, Baichuan has introduced four open-source large language models (LLMs) and is actively developing two distinctive platforms. The startup secured $300 million in funding from backers including Alibaba and Tencent on May 1st, 2023, following an initial $50 million from angel investors. Bloomberg now estimates Baichuan’s value to exceed $1 billion.

Baichuan’s workforce consists of over 170 individuals, with more than 80% specialising in R&D. Its team includes elite AI experts formerly associated with major corporations like Google, Tencent, Baidu, Huawei, Microsoft, and ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok.

The startup has achieved over six million downloads with two of its open-source models. Baichuan is positioning itself as a leading force in the generative AI sector in China, presenting a strong challenge to American tech giants such as Microsoft and OpenAI.

Light Year Beyond

Wang Huiwen, one of the co-founders of the Chinese food delivery giant Meituan, founded the company Guangnian Zhi Wai, also known as Light Year Beyond in 2023 with the goal of becoming China’s equivalent of OpenAI.

Meituan acquired the company in June 2023 for approximately $285 million, in a deal consisting of $233.7 million in cash, while also assuming the startup’s debt of $50.66 million.

This acquisition occurred amidst a global surge in investor fascination with artificial intelligence, leading to a wave of investments and acquisitions by companies eager to advance in the field of generative AI, similar to ChatGPT. The acquisition will assist Meituan in creating its own AI technology akin to ChatGPT.

AI Companies to Watch Asia

Published on 11-01-2024


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