SoftBank backs Japanese robotics startup Telexistence in $170M funding round

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SoftBank is backing Japanese robotics startup Telexistence, making good on the tech giant’s recent pledge to go back on the investment offensive in light of the current AI hype. 

Tokyo-based Telexistence said Thursday that it has raised $170 million (23 billion yen) in a Series B round of funding from SoftBank, Airbus Ventures, Monoful Partners, KDDI Open Innovation Fund, a fund set up by Foxconn and CTBC Financial Holdings, and Globis Capital Partners.

Founded in 2017, Telexistence develops AI-powered robotic arms for the retail and logistics industry. Last year, the company deployed its robots in 300 FamilyMart convenience stores across Japan. 

The company will use its fresh capital to bolster its workforce globally, CEO Jin Tomioka said in a statement. But aside from the funding, Telexistence is also announcing a strategic partnership with SoftBank Robotic Group, a unit of SoftBank Group, to ramp up its commercialization in North America. Moreover, the startup said it will work with Foxconn to produce its next-generation robot, called “Ghost.” 

SoftBank Robotic Group’s Kenichi Kent Yoshida, and Globis Capital Partners’ Ryohei Nomoto will join Telexistence’s board of directors as a result of their investment. 

SoftBank has been more than a little bullish about investments in the robotics realm, having backed California-based Bear Robotics back in 2020. Via the Softbank Vision Fund 2, it has also made investments in Shanghai-based Keenon Robotics, which specializes in developing service robots, and Opentrons, a medical testing robot developer.


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