Investors increasingly seek robot-manufacturing firms as more businesses look to automate their supply chains and production lines. Flex, a Chinese-based robot manufacturer, is the latest company to receive funding. It has completed its Series B funding round that has exceeded $100 million from several investors, including on-demand service brand Meituan as per meituanliaotechcrunch.
Meta Capital, a Chinese VC firm, is another prominent investor. It also owns the New Hope Group, a leading agricultural entity, and Longwood, YF Capital by Jack Ma. Gaorong Capital and GSR Ventures are two top VC companies from China. Plug and Play also offered ventures in China and the U.S. The startup received $120 million in funding from the new round.
The company operates out of several major cities in China, as well as a California base. Most of the staff are based in China, which is a good example for startups led by Chinese founders who have studied in or worked in America. Wang Shiquan is a graduate of Stanford’s Biomimetics & Dexterous Manipulation Laboratory.
He founded Flexiv in 2016 to develop more adaptable robots for the manufacturing sector. The startup plans to use its new capital to implement its general-purpose, AI-backed robots in various other sectors such as healthcare, agriculture, service, and logistics.
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Flex could use the investment from Meituan to leverage its services toward the core food delivery business for the investor. This allows for higher volume and repetitive tasks while still being automated. Wang believes that automation is possible in all manufacturing industries.
Wang believes that the consumer electronics segment requires higher levels of precision and manufacturing procedures that are more delicate. This equates to a need to overhaul the production line in order to make room for newer products. Flexi’s robots are equipped with force feedback-based and computer vision systems.
They can adapt to new situations and help save time and money in the establishment of new equipment. According to the founder, the company’s greatest asset is its flexible robots.
Wang believes that traditional robot arms can perform jobs more safely when there are no obstacles in their immediate environment. However, they may not be as competent if they work in difficult environments. Dishwashing requires a lot of AI-backed decision-making and recognition. Already, the company has produced close to 100 robots in mass production.
The company has already taken the monetization route, selling its robots and licensing software and offering support and service after-sales. It isn’t easy to find more partners and customers in diverse industries that will believe in these new technologies.
Flex continues to have China as its largest market. North America is a key future market for Flexiv and will continue to be its core area of expansion. Wang also said that each nation has its advantages in robotics. Wang outlined the advantages of China’s supply chain, production, and labor costs. He also noted fewer gaps between countries in terms of adaptive and traditional robotics.
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