EncoSmart (享刻智能), a startup making robotic parts and solutions, has closed an angel round worth 40 million yuan (US$5.81 million), led jointly by ZhenFund and Zhongguancun Zhiyou Scientist Fund.
Other participants included Decent Investment, Joyoung and Genbyte Technology.
Proceeds from this round will be plunged into the development of multimodal robotic technologies, product prototypes and recruitment of employees.
EncoSmart, founded in November last year in Beijing, was headed by Chen Zhen, who was previously in a managerial position overseeing the robot business at Joyoung, a listed smart home appliance maker.
He also served a stint as general manager at the R&D center of SharkNinja, a US-based small home appliance manufacturer that Joyoung acquired in 2017.
Chen founded QFeeltech, a hardware tech startup, in 2014, which became a wholly owned subsidiary of JS Global, the new parent of Joyoung and SharkNinja following their merger in 2017.
A robotics veteran, Chen called EncoSmart his second venture, vowing to take the firm on a trajectory to leverage China’s robotic boom.
According to domestic media reports, he resolves to supply low-cost but highly efficient one-stop robot products and automation solutions tailored to daily life scenarios, with multi-modal sensing technologies at their core.
EncoSmart looks to apply its technological strengths in areas such as catering and cleaning, two sectors already marked by a relatively high penetration of commercial service robots in recent years.
Chen stated that EncoSmart will make it its mission to lift the ratio of homegrown technologies in Chinese-made robot, as well as help traditional industries realize a pivot to intelligent robotics and digitization.
His new endeavor came amid surging labor costs worldwide, which have driven higher the demand for robots to partially supplant human workers.
A new generation of AI and robotic technologies, typically large language model and multimodality, are becoming the face of the next industrial revolution and are expected to lead the changes.
“A smart transformation is the inevitable choice confronting traditional home appliance and even the whole industry going forward,” said Yang Ningning, chairman of Joyoung. “Our collaboration with Chen Zhen started with the full acquisition in 2020 of his QFeeltech. We are glad to participate in EncoSmart’s contribution to Chinese robotics at the very outset of Chen’s second venture.”
Robotics have come a long way over the past few years in China, forming a complete industrial chain, said Chen.
He added that owing to the advantages and foundation of this fast-growing sector, he is highly confident that the long-term outlook for Chinese robotics will be rosy.
“The next 10 years will the best window of opportunity for Chinese robotics to empower global markets and products,” he noted.