Midea Group, a Chinese electrical appliance manufacturer, launched Thursday a technology center in Silicon Valley of the United States as part of an effort to turn itself into a technology company.
Listed on the Fortune Global in 2016, Midea is a household name in China but more an original equipment manufacturer making an vast array of air treatment, kitchen, laundry, cooking, refrigeration and other appliances for other companies in the rest of the world.
Known as Midea Emerging Technology Center (ETC), the new facility with more than 930 square meters of floor space in San Jose, California and an initial annual budget of 100 million yuan (15 million U.S. dollars), is the company's second of its kind in the United States, after Midea America Research Center in Louisville, Kentucky.
At the inaugural ceremony, Zachary Hu, senior vice president and chief technology officer, said the center will focus on developing artificial intelligence (AI) and sensor technologies, with a goal to bring their applications into Midea product lines.
Hu said it is the talent pool that matters most for the company, acknowledging that it has been a "frog leap" for Midea, a maker of small kitchen appliances, to enter new areas such as AI and robotics with its recent acquisition of Kuka AG in Germany, a supplier of intelligent robotics and automation solutions.
Wang Dongyan, vice president and general manager of the ETC, is arguably a Silicon Valley veteran with work experience with a number of international technology companies. Midea is the first Chinese company he has ever worked for.