South Korea-based Samsung Electronics has made its first investment from the newly created $300 million Samsung Automotive Innovation Fund, which is targeting startups in the autonomous vehicle realm.
The fund’s first investment in connected-car technology will be a €75 million strategic stake — roughly $89 million — in TTTech, an Austria-based developer of platforms and safety software for connected cars, with whom Samsung will form a partnership, according to release.
It’s the next big move in the industry by Samsung, following its $8 billion acquisition of connected technology leader Harman International Industries Inc. in 2016.
“During this period of extraordinary transformation in the automotive industry, we are excited to play a leadership role in supporting and shaping the future of smarter, more-connected vehicles.”
“During this period of extraordinary transformation in the automotive industry, we are excited to play a leadership role in supporting and shaping the future of smarter, more-connected vehicles,” said Young Sohn, president and chief strategy officer of Samsung Electronics and chairman of the board of Harman.
TTTech board member Georg Kopetz said the company was pleased to have Samsung as an investor and partner, “to create solutions for the next generation of highly integrated and data-intensive safety systems.”
The focus of the Samsung fund’s investments is on connected car and autonomous technologies. That includes smart sensors, machine vision, artificial intelligence, high-performance computing, connectivity solutions, automotive-grade safety solutions, security, and privacy.
By investing in autonomous cars, Samsung said it isn’t trying to become a car manufacturing business, rather it is “remaining focused on working with automakers and mobility enablers to develop the next generation of automotive innovation,” according to the release.
It’s not the first time that Samsung has invested in connected-car technology.
Samsung’s venture investment arm led a $6.5 million funding round in 2015 for a connected-car device that was developed the year before by Dallas-based Vinli Inc.
The device was introduced at TechCrunch’s 2014 Disrupt conference, according to The Dallas Morning News.
SAMSUNG WILL TEST IN CALIFORNIA, SOUTH KOREA
Samsung, whose Samsung Telecommunications America business is headquartered in Richardson, has procured licenses for the testing of autonomous driving software and hardware in California and Korea.
Automakers are very interested in developing connected car technologies, which they consider a major part of the industry’s future.
Toyota, whose North American headquarters is in Plano, has an agreement with Microsoft giving the automaker access to all of Microsoft’s connected car technology and patents.
That gives the Japanese automaker a jump on new features such as artificial intelligence, voice recognition, and tester control.
Microsoft said it wants to strike similar deals with other auto companies.
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