AI edge computing solutions company, Blaize today announced the close of a $71 Mn Series D round of funding. Franklin Templeton, a new investor, and Temasek, an existing investor, led the round, along with participation from DENSO and other new and existing investors.
Prior to the Series D, Blaize had secured $87 Mn in equity funding from strategic and venture investors DENSO, Daimler, SPARX Group, Magna, Samsung Catalyst Fund, Temasek, GGV Capital, Wavemaker and SGInnovate. With headquarters in El Dorado Hills (CA), Blaize has teams in Campbell (CA), Cary (NC), and subsidiaries in Hyderabad, Manila (Philippines), and Leeds and Kings Langley (UK), with over 300 employees worldwide
The company will deploy the funds to accelerate the product roadmap and scale its entire business. For this purpose, it plans on rapidly expanding its Hyderabad, India operations in the next 12 – 18 months. Additionally, Blaize plans to strengthen its talent base in India by hiring engineers and AI technology experts across functions including hardware design, software development, verification, research and customer services.
Founded in 2010 by Dinakar Munagala and Ke Yin, Blaize offers edge AI computing solutions in automotive, mobility, smart retail, security, industrial and metro market sectors.
“Automotive, and numerous edge AI markets, such as retail and metro, hold tremendous potential for Blaize to expand on their early market position as the adoption of AI at the edge accelerates, creating a new wave of industrial systems,” said JP Scandalios, senior vice president and portfolio manager, Franklin Templeton.
Speaking on one of the company’s products,Tony Cannestra, director of Corporate Ventures, DENSO commented “Blaize System on Chip (“SoCs”) for automotive edge and central compute functions are accelerating electric vehicles and future architectural ambitions of automotive OEMs.”
In 2020, Blaize successfully released and built a multi-year pipeline for the first generation Blaize AI edge computing hardware and software products with customer opportunities in the US, Europe, Japan, and Asia. While it has offices in India, the company is far from using the complete potential of the Indian markets in spaces such as agriculture, healthcare, smart city, and other initiatives.
Similar to Blaize’s position in the Indian markets, India is also currently in its nascent stages of the AI revolution. According to a report by Accenture, AI has the potential to add $957 Bn, or 15% of India’s current gross value to the economy, in 2035.
Throughout the course of the pandemic, AI was increasingly being adopted in various fields such as healthcare and agriculture. Various startups such as Skinkraft and Tricog, which operated at the intersection of medical and AI also emerged during this period.
India’s first step to achieving this long term vision is to harness the power of research & development (R&D) in domains of AI, IoT and Computer Vision, among others. NITI Aayog, India’s planning body, has laid out a ‘two-tiered’ strategy for our country’s AI vision. This consists of 30 policy recommendations. There is a two-fold focus on improving AI-based research. The first is to achieve maximum economic potential via technological diligence. The second is to examine the social applications of AI in sectors such as healthcare, agriculture, and education. The goal is also to attract foreign and angel investment in the Indian AI startup ecosystem.