Xiaomi helps image sensor startup raise $225 million

October 26, 2020 //By Peter Clarke
Xiaomi helps image sensor startup raises $225 million
CMOS image sensor supplier SmartSens Technology Co. Ltd. (Shanghai, China) has raised about 1.5 billion yuan (about US$225 million) in a funding round co-led by smartphone maker Xiaomi.

Other lead investors include the Chinese state-owned China Integrated Circuit Industry Investment Fund China Merchants Bank (CMB) International.

SmartSens was founded in 2011 and has risen to take about 1 percent of the global market for CMOS image sensors in 2017, according to Yole Developpement. However, the company was only known to have raised $20 million in a Series A round of financing that took place in 2018.

SmartSens lies someway behind the leading Chinese image sensor company OmniVision Technologies. Third-ranked OmniVision was bought for a little over $2 billion in August 2018 by Will Semiconductor Co. Ltd. (Shanghai, China). OmniVision originally became Chinese in 2015 when the shareholders of the then California-headquartered company approved a plan for the company to be acquired by a Chinese consortium (see OmniVision shareholders approve Seagull takeover).

According to reports SmartSens had previously received money from a fund operated by Huawei.

Xiaomi has used CMOS image sensors supplied by Samsung Electronics so its investment in SmartSens can be seen in the context of continued decoupling of China from the rest-of-the-world now that it is approaching parity in technology.

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