A Beijing-based robotics company that specializes in warehouse automation and logistics recently increased its total funding to $ 100 million. ForwardX Robotics, which makes autonomous mobile robots for material handling, recently announced the completion of its C Series fundraiser.
This funding is part of a larger context in China, where the domestic robotics sector has exploded thanks to the government’s offshoring policy and massive investments in the country’s tech sector. Since 2016, the country has nearly tripled its production of individual robots. Meanwhile, Chinese robotics developers saw revenue growth of more than 40% year-over-year.
This growth is part of a favorable context for the global robotics market, driven in part by strong demand and the health crisis. However, the growth of the Chinese robotics sector marks a major change in the last five years on a global scale. China has long been a net importer of foreign industrial robots to support its manufacturing infrastructure, but the Made in China 2025 plan has made the development of domestic automation a top priority.
A booming market
This trend is not entirely new. Back in 2018, Jérémie Capron, research director at ROBO Global, a benchmark series that tracks robotics and artificial intelligence companies, spoke to us about the steady pace of growth in Chinese automation. “China is home to the largest and fastest growing robotics market on the planet. Chinese government contracts, such as the Made in China 2025 plan, drive R&D and investment in AI technology now compete with startups. in Silicon Valley. Chinese robotics and AI activity is booming and there are no signs of slowing down innovation, “said the latter.
If there is any doubt about further growth, it can be removed. By some estimates, China now exports more robots than the United States. The ForwardX example illustrates this trend well. Just 7 months after the close of its $ 63 million Series B round, the latest round of funding brings ForwardX to around $ 100 million in total investment since its founding in 2016.
“Our latest round of financing contributes to the positive momentum we have built over the past 24 months. With growing market share in our key territories, we look forward to continuing to deliver transformative results to our current and future clients,” says the founder. and CEO of the company Nicolas Chee. “While we had previously focused on the Chinese domestic market, the year 2021 has brought us more success outside of China. We are looking forward to making our solutions available to a wider audience and consolidating our position as a dominant player in the North. and northern China. South America, Asia and Europe. “
Target Europe and the United States
Not surprisingly, the company has expansion ambitions and plans to use the new capital in part to increase its deployment capabilities in key markets, such as the European market, and expand its business reach to new ones. ForwardX is opening an office on the East Coast and in Tokyo, which could be interpreted as a wake-up call to two once-dominant robotic powers.
“This is an exciting time for us and for the industry at large. COVID-19 has made it difficult to expand overseas in 2020, but this year has brought us much more success in that regard,” says Yaxin Guan, COO of ForwardX. . “E-commerce in the United States has seen its 18-month peak become the new baseline, resulting in an acceleration in demand for automation, and with this round of funding, we are in a better position to deliver quality solutions for North America. customers. “
So far, the company has deployed fleets of autonomous mobile robots (AMR) with partners such as JD Logistics, SF DHL Supply Chain China, TCL Electronics, ITOCHU Logistics China, and Dongfeng Motor Corporation. LinkedIn China named ForwardX as one of the Top 13 Startups.
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