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Sequoia-Backed China Robot Startup Said to be Raising New Funds

Makeblock is among a flurry of companies including Pearson Plc, Lego Group and Sony Corp. vying for a cut of the so-called STEM-learning industry.

Makeblock Co., a Chinese maker of DIY robotics parts, is seeking to raise funding at a $200 million valuation as the Sequoia Capital-backed startup expands into classrooms and hobbyist’s workshops globally, people familiar with the matter said.

The Shenzhen-based company is seeking to raise about 200 million yuan (US$29 million) in a series B round, the people said, requesting not to be named discussing a private matter. The figures are preliminary and could vary depending on negotiations with potential investors. The company confirmed it’s raising funds, but declined in an e-mailed statement to elaborate or provide further details.

Makeblock is among a flurry of companies including Pearson Plc, Lego Group and Sony Corp. vying for a cut of the so-called STEM-learning industry-- a problem-based approach to education that combines knowledge in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Spurred on by parents who want their children better prepared for a digital future, the sector is expected to become a $15 billion market by 2020, according to Beijing-based consultancy JMD Education.

Founded in 2013 by aircraft-design major Jasen Wang, Makeblock sells kits of mechanical parts and electronic modules that can cost as much as $800 to robot hobbyists and educators. Its products are used by more than 600,000 people, with more than 60% of its revenue generated from overseas. Apart from Sequoia, Shenzhen-based hardware startup accelerator Hax is a backer.

By Lulu Yilun Chen

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