Google, in an unusual move, has invested in Japanese AI and machine learning company ABEJA during a follow-on funding round, according to a report.
The deal is a strategic one, according to ABEJA.
“Going forward, ABEJA and Google will collaborate on AI and ML solutions across various sectors, including retail and manufacturing, driving the application of AI solutions, along with further growth in the Japanese AI sector,” the company said in a statement.
ABEJA calls its platform PaaS, or platform as a service. It uses machine learning to assist more than 150 companies with finding insight and developing business analysis from data. They also offer a product specifically for retail stores that focuses on customer- and retail-oriented data.
“ABEJA has strong technical capabilities and ML expertise, and is respected across the industry for its track record of collaboration and the effective deployment of its tech solutions,” said Shinichi Abe, managing director of Google Cloud Japan. “This investment paves the way for collaboration with ABEJA in innovative solutions in the retail and manufacturing sector, as well as other verticals.”
Google has not disclosed the amount of funding, but the report stated that it is likely between one and nine million dollars, as ABEJA, which is six years old, has so far raised about $53 million. That leaves about $8 million of undisclosed money. However, ABEJA also has an undisclosed amount for a previous Series A round of funding in 2014.
This is a major move for Google, whose main forays so far into Asia have been in China, where it opened a lab in Beijing. The company did buy startups in India and Singapore, but those were more to grow its in-house products, while the ABEJA deal is more of a collaboration.
“Since our founding in 2012, we have been collaborating on AI business applications, and ML in particular, under our corporate philosophy ‘Implement a Fruitful World,’” said Yousuke Okada, representative director of ABEJA. “Through our collaboration with Google, we will help to grow the AI market in Japan and drive further structural change across all industries.”