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SoftBank Robotics Invests in Hong Kong Startup Avalon SteriTech

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(Bloomberg) -- SoftBank Group Corp.’s robotics arm has agreed to buy a minority stake in cleaning technology startup Avalon SteriTech Ltd., marking the company’s first investment in Hong Kong.

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SoftBank Robotics is buying a 5% stake in the Hong Kong-based company, Kent Yoshida, chief business officer at SoftBank Robotics Group and Lewis Ho, the chief executive officer of Avalon SteriTech, said in an interview. As part of the deal, Yoshida will join the company’s board of directors. They declined to provide the financial details of the transaction.

The investment follows an existing joint venture between the companies that develops products and technologies for cleaning and bio-decontamination with a focus on Whiz Gambit, an AI-powered robotic cleaning system.

Avalon SteriTech is considering conducting a series A funding round to help fund its growth plans, the executives said. It plans to grow in countries such as the U.S., Australia and the United Arab Emirates and has been in talks with prospective partners to enter into new markets, they added.

Avalon SteriTech revenues will reach $8 million to $10 million this year, from about $2 million last year, Ho said. The company, whose clients include Hong Kong’s railway operator MTR Corp. and the city’s flagship carrier Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., could break even in 2023, he added. The company is a unit of Avalon Biomedical Management Ltd., whose businesses include diagnostics, medical devices, pharmaceuticals and infection control.

SoftBank Robotics has made investments in countries such as the U.S. and the U.K. In January, it announced a partnership with Infogrid, a London-based AI provider of smart building systems. Last year, SoftBank led a $200 million investment in Opentrons Labworks Inc., a robotics startup that helped spur New York City’s Covid testing process, boosting the company’s value to $1.8 billion.

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