China VC Weekly: Biotech, Autonomous Driving and AI
Gracell Biotechnologies raises $100 million in Series C round
Gracell Biotechnologies Inc., a Chinese clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company dedicated to developing efficacious and affordable cell therapies for the treatment of cancer, announced it has raised $100 million in its Series C funding round. The round was led by Wellington Management Company, OrbiMed and Morningside Ventures, and joined by new investor Vivo Capital. Existing investors Temasek Holdings, Lilly Asia Ventures, OrbiMed and King Star Med LP are also participating.
“We are very pleased to expand our investor base with support from a high caliber consortium,” said Dr. William Wei Cao, founder, Chairman, and CEO of Gracell. “Our passion is to bring transformative CAR-T cell therapies to a broader group of patients by developing products that are efficacious and can be made widely available.”
Proceeds from the round will be used to fund internal research and development and further advance current clinical programs. Jefferies and Cooley advised in the transaction.
Gracell was founded in 2017 with the mission to overcome the major industry challenges that persist for both autologous and allogeneic CAR-T cell therapy approaches. Leveraging its pioneering FasTCAR and TruUCAR technology platforms, Gracell is developing a rich clinical-stage pipeline of multiple autologous and allogeneic product candidates with the potential to overcome major industry challenges that persist with conventional CAR-T therapies, including lengthy manufacturing time, suboptimal production quality, high therapy costs and lack of effective CAR-T therapies for solid tumors.
Autonomous driving startup Pony.ai bags $300 million, $6 billion valuation
Chinese autonomous driving startup Pony.ai has reportedly completed a new round of financing raising over $300 million, with a post-investment valuation of $6 billion. Canada’s Ontario Pension Fund led the round, contributing nearly $200 million, FAW Group also took part in the round.
After the new round of financing, Pony.Ai’s valuation nearly doubled. The company’s cumulative financing amount currently exceeds $1 billion.
Founded in 2016, Pony.Ai launched a PonyPilot Robotaxi project in December 2018, and took the lead in starting the Robotaxi’s regular field operations in the pilot urban area of Nansha, Guangzhou, becoming the first company to provide Robotaxi services in China. In November 2019, Pony.Ai launched California’s first Robotaxi service for the general public.
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AI firm MINIEYE raises $40 million in Series C round
Chinese artificial intelligence (AI) technology company MINIEYE announced that it has raised 270 million yuan ($40 million) in a Series C Round of financing, which is expected to help strengthen its position in the autonomous driving technology segment. Investors in the round included Oriental Fortune Capital, Harvest Investments and Vision Plus Capital.
The company’s AI-based systems help self-driving vehicles assess the surrounding environment and improve automated decision-making. Its systems have been used by a number of major automotive customers including General Motors, SAIC Motor Corporatrion, BYD Auto and Dongfeng Motor.
MINIEYE’s founder and CEO Liu Guoqing said the proceeds of the financing round will go towards funding development of advanced automated driving technologies, as well as helping the company deliver mass-produced large-scale products, strengthen its supply-chain/purchasing operations and improve overall cashflow.
MINIEYE was founded in 2013 to provide reliable sensing and decision-making solutions for autonomous vehicles through the use of AI. The company says it aims to help improve road safety by reducing traffic accidents through the use of automation.