Potential 'unicorns' groom global pursuits

Updated 2018-03-29 14:09:05

Innovative Chinese startups with a global vision have bright futures, and Shanghai firms are leading that charge.

They have helped develop technologies used in artificial intelligence, overseas transfer payments and advanced chipsets used in telecommunications.

A number of factors and incentive policies work in their favor. The national Belt and Road Initiative is paving the way for business expansion into South and Central Asia, Europe and Africa,with rail connections and hefty infrastructure investment. Startups with expected market value of US billion or more— so-called "unicorns" — now have an express green channel to raise funds through initial public offerings on mainland stock exchanges.

Innovation has become a declared national policy, and that mantra dovetails nicely with Shanghai's campaign to turn itself into global leader of creativity and cutting-edge technology.

Shanghai Daily picked three startups that are expanding overseas and have the potential to become "unicorns." They all have headquarters in Zhangjiang High-Tech Park, which is widely regarded as the local version of the Silicon Valley.

Bottos: artificial intelligence ecosystem

A new decentralized artificial intelligence data-sharing ecosystem based on blockchain technology, debuted at Stanford University in California's Silicon Valley last week.

The system was developed by Shanghai-based startup Bottos.

"The Bottos ecosystem and blockchain technology will change the future lifestyle of people and even ultimately change the productive relationships in our society," said Wu Jun, founding partner of California-based early-state venture firm Amino Capital.

Wu, who attended the launch event at Stanford, formerly worked at Google and authored the popular technology industry book "On Top of Tides."

The Bottos 2.0 system is open to all global artificial intelligence companies and related organizations that can handle huge volumes of data. That is considered critical to improving algorithms. Blockchain technology, with features including track-ability, creditable data and records, and user-friendly interface, makes all trades reliable and efficient.

For example, artificial intelligence firms can find and purchase databases, such as the sounds of the Shanghai dialect or pictures of a special kind of bird, to "train" algorithms.

High quality data can help technology firms attain breakthroughs in application development, covering decentralized application, big data, intelligent hardware, the Internet of Things and robots, according to Song Xin, Bottos chief executive officer.

Artificial intelligence is already making inroads in the fields of security, education,medicine, smart manufacture and aerospace. It's a "national strategy technology" and the core market value will exceed 150 billion yuan (US billion) by 2020, according to the State Council,China's Cabinet.

Spreadtrum: chipsets for India

India is the world's biggest "feature phone" market, and a Shanghai-based chip design company has its sights set firmly on that growing opportunity.

Spreadtrum Communications has 63 percent of India's baseband chipset market,making it the largest supplier of its kind to the South Asian country.

It has launched the new chipset SC9820 to power a local Indian mobile phone brand that is introducing 4G feature phones for the first time in the Indian telecom market.

Even though 4G networks are already available, many Indians are still using phones without smart operating systems like Android or iOS because these so-called feature phones are cheaper and easier to use.

India was the world's biggest market for feature phones in 2017, with sales of 164 million units, according to International Data Corp, a US-based research firm.

Seizing the prospects, Spreadtrum has invested heavily in India. It has set up a research and development center in Noida, a planned city in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It has forged local partnerships with manufacturers and mobile operators, including Reliance, Samsung, Micromax, Intex, Lava, Airtel and Vodafone.

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