TOKYO: SPARX Group Co., Ltd. announced that its Mirai Creation Fund II has invested in Groove X, Inc. (GX), a robotics start-up that is developing LOVOT, a family-oriented robot.
GX intends to use this round of fundraising to bolster its marketing in preparation for the LOVOT launch and to continue actively hiring the personnel required for accelerating its business.
GX was founded in November 2015 by Kaname Hayashi, whose career has included positions at Toyota and SoftBank. Roughly three years after its founding, GX announced LOVOT, its family-oriented robot in December 2018, and it plans to release the product to the public at the end of 2019.
Until now, robots have served functional roles, doing the work of people. However, GX is developing an emotional role for robots, through which they can share warm feelings with humans. Moreover, as the aging society, the nuclear family, and two-income families rapidly become the norm, society is facing problems that stem from the loneliness people experience in their lives.
The firm believes that LOVOT, by living with people, could provide them with a sense of security and comfortable feeling, and ultimately, it could help cultivate their human capabilities.
The Mirai Creation Fund I began operations in November 2015 with financing of roughly JPY 13.5 billion from three companies: Toyota Motor Corporation, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, and SPARX, the Fund’s manager.
Ultimately, the Fund received contributions from 20 companies, including the above three. Seeing intelligent technologies, robotics, and technologies that promote a hydrogen economy as core technologies of the future, Fund I has invested in approximately 50 companies and projects from the US, the UK, Israel, Singapore, and Japan that possess innovative technologies in these fields.
In H2 2018, SPARX began managing the Mirai Creation Fund II, which targets the three existing Mirai Creation fields along with the two additional fields of electrification and new materials. As of April 30, 2019, the combined AUM for Fund I and Fund II are JPY 109.3 billion.