Xiaomi helps image sensor startup raise $225 million

Xiaomi helps image sensor startup raise $225 million

Business news |
By Peter Clarke

Other lead investors include the Chinese state-owned China Integrated Circuit Industry Investment Fund China Merchants Bank (CMB) International.

SmartSens was founded in 2011 and has risen to take about 1 percent of the global market for CMOS image sensors in 2017, according to Yole Developpement. However, the company was only known to have raised $20 million in a Series A round of financing that took place in 2018.

SmartSens lies someway behind the leading Chinese image sensor company OmniVision Technologies. Third-ranked OmniVision was bought for a little over $2 billion in August 2018 by Will Semiconductor Co. Ltd. (Shanghai, China). OmniVision originally became Chinese in 2015 when the shareholders of the then California-headquartered company approved a plan for the company to be acquired by a Chinese consortium (see OmniVision shareholders approve Seagull takeover).

According to reports SmartSens had previously received money from a fund operated by Huawei.

Xiaomi has used CMOS image sensors supplied by Samsung Electronics so its investment in SmartSens can be seen in the context of continued decoupling of China from the rest-of-the-world now that it is approaching parity in technology.

Next: Allchip acquisition

In June 2020 SmartSens announced the completion of the acquisition of Allchip Microelectronics (Shenzhen, China), a specialist in CMOS image sensors for automotive applications.

SmartSens said that the use of image sensors in automobiles had increased momentum in the market and that the acquisition would help it capitalize on that.

“Our acquisition of Allchip Microelectronics is a strategic move for SmartSens that will significantly broaden our leadership and capacity in addressing this market,” said Richard Xu, founder and CEO of SmartSens, in a statement issued at the time.

Mike Hu, former CEO of Allchip, has taken the role of vice president of technology at SmartSens. Hu is a veteran in CMOS image sensor field since his time as CTO of BYD Microelectronics time ten years ago.

The fund raising comes soon after the appointment of James Ouyang as deputy general manager of SmartSens in July 2020. Ouyang is responsible for corporate strategic integration. He joins from Goke Microelectronics where he served as vice president and prior to that he was Fujitsu Semiconductor’s general manager of Asia-Pacific sales and marketing.

Related links and articles:

News articles:

Analog, MEMS and sensor startups to follow in 2020

Samsung, ST grow market share in strong image sensor market

Opinion: Sony’s plan for smart image sensors could be a game changer

OmniVision bought quietly by China’s Will Semiconductor

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