Uncle Lenovo turns up to the startup party with a $500m punch bowl

AI, cloud, analytics firms wanted by old-world PC maker scared of irrelevance

IT old-timer Lenovo Group will inject half a billion dollars into the tech startup scene, it claimed today.

The Lenovo Capital and Incubator Group (LCIG) unveiled in Beijing will plough cash into fledgling companies developing cloud computing, big data, artificial intelligence and robotics.

The PC maker’s venture cap division Lenovo Capital has already invested in 40 new businesses including facial-recognition and AI biz Face++, enterprise cloud storage outfit SMARTX, web biometric authentication creator Nok Nok Labs, and SaaS e-commerce service Shopex.

It is unclear how much Lenovo capital has splashed on new companies to date but the $500m fund is only part of the plan – LCIG will also lend a hand in HR, finance, marketing, legal and government matters, it said.

The venture cap fund will also give startups access to its R&D teams, and claimed it can slash the supply chain costs by drawing on its global network.

The liquidity love-in will not be limited to China, Lenovo said. LCIG had already “joined hands” with overseas institutional investors in the US and Israel.

Lenovo is the world’s largest shifter of client devices but demand for such things is weakening and may not ever fully recover to the previous sales rates; it has ground to make up on smartphone rivals; the tab market is slumping; and servers sales aren’t what they used to be.

The trends mean Lenovo need to establish some relevance in a rapidly developing world of the fluffy white stuff, analytics and neural networks. ®

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