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Despite falling financial markets, San Diego’s Kneron raises $48M for artificial intelligence tech

Kneron's artificial intelligence processor.
(Courtesy of Kneron)

Founded seven years ago, the startup provides AI for smart cameras, smart cities infrastructure and other gear out in the field.

San Diego-based Kneron, a provider of artificial intelligence technology for smart cameras and other gear on the network edge, has landed $48 million in a second round of venture capital funding, despite the increasingly volatile environment for young companies seeking to raise money.

Founded in 2015, Kneron provides AI processors for electronics deployed in the field. That includes everything from smart cameras to smart home sensors to smart city infrastructure to motor vehicle safety systems.

The company employs about 40 people in San Diego and 100 in Taiwan and China. Kneron’s technology is reconfigurable, with a focus on providing low latency, secure and affordable artificial intelligence processing to devices deployed outside of data centers.

This latest funding round was led by Horizons Ventures. It was joined by new backers Liteon, an opto-electronics storage firm; and ADATA Technology, a memory provider. High net worth investors associated with a Taiwanese financial institution also participated.

“We are excited to work our new strategic investors in the advancement of core smart city infrastructures,” said Albert Liu, founder and chief executive, in a statement. “Edge AI is key to enabling a whole array of devices, from edge servers to smart cameras, which will truly accelerate a proliferation of AI applications.”

Over the past year, Kneron said it has added new customers, including Hanwha, a global maker of smart cameras. The two companies teamed up to bring artificial intelligence to smart building management, where cameras create virtual fences and enhanced security. It also provides AI for smart home cameras for detecting people, animals and vehicles in and around the home; smart traffic intersection management; parking lot license plate identification; and blind spot detection for buses.

The company said the new funding brings the total amount over the past seven years to $140 million. Previous backers include Qualcomm Ventures, Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund and Sequoia Capital, as well as Delta Electronics and Foxconn, a contract electronics manufacturer for major brands including Apple. Foxconn increased its investment in Kneron during this recent round.

Before starting Kneron, Liu held research and management positions at Qualcomm and Samsung Electronics, among other companies. He received his doctorate from UCLA.


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