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Lenovo investment unit bets big on smart internet sector

By Cheng Yu | China Daily | Updated: 2018-04-03 10:02
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Lenovo Capital and Incubator Group, a subsidiary of Chinese tech company Lenovo Group, is ramping up efforts in smart internet investments as the company seeks new business potential.

Lenovo's intensified efforts to boost innovation came as the company encounters mounting pressure in the personal computer and smartphone businesses, two of its major revenue sources.

The investment unit, founded in 2016, aims to finance startups in emerging sectors. It has invested in a group of startups including AI chip maker Cambricon Technologies and electric vehicle startup Nio Auto, which quickly became unicorns - startups valued at more than $1 billion.

"We mainly invest in core technologies," said He Zhiqiang, head of LCIG and senior vice president of Lenovo. "Smart internet is our focus area with the Internet of Things, edge computing, cloud, big data and artificial intelligence being top priorities."

"The programs we invest in should be able to be combined with vertical areas including intelligent manufacturing and medical segments as well as smart cities and families," he said, adding that platform-level applications will be a new trend this year.

He made the comments during the final round of Lenovo's AI competition on Thursday, when students from eight universities joined to compete for the fund from the company.

These programs range from intelligent supervision to big data and half of them are related to medical segments.

"We hope to promote our AI products to more patients through the competition with the help of Lenovo," said Lin Haotian, one of the contestants who is also a university professor.

Lin and his group have developed an AI-enabled machine to help doctors diagnose cataracts.

According to Lin, they have established one of the world's first outpatient departments staffed by AI robots that can help with diagnoses 24 hours a day.

"We will share some of our investments with scientific research institutions and universities as many great companies grew from there. Most of them are led by top-tier research and development teams and are strong in technology," said Liang Ying, executive director of LCIG. She admitted that some programs developed in scientific research institutions and universities are weak in terms of commercialization and are likely to fail.

"However, this is exactly where we are strong as Lenovo has its own incubator. We will help these programs in the beginning and then use our abundant resources in marketing, sales, supply chains and human resources to support them later on," she added.

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