Foxconn to shop for wearable computer start-ups

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Foxconn to shop for wearable computer start-ups

Foxconn Technology Group, maker of Apple’s iPhones and iPads, is launching an investment fund to finance start-ups developing new kinds of wearable computers, according to two people familiar with the project.

Syntrend Creative Park, a Foxconn unit, will administer NT$200 million ($6.8 million) fund and select participants for a trial in the first quarter, the people said, asking not to be identified because the details aren’t public. Operations at the incubator, providing offices and advisory services for start-ups, will open by the end of next year to create wearable and connected technologies, the people said.

Foxconn is expanding beyond manufacturing devices for clients including Apple and Hewlett-Packard as slowing sales and increased competition challenge founder Terry Gou’s target of 15 percent annual revenue growth. In June, the billionaire showed off a smartwatch the company is developing and in October it acquired licenses to offer fourth-generation wireless service in Taiwan.

Syntrend, headed by Terry Gou’s son, Gou Shou-cheng, will open its Taipei Information Park by the fourth quarter of next year, the people said. Foxconn in 2010 won a government contract to build and operate a 12-story complex that will host retail outlets and product showcases from local and international brands, which may include Microsoft and Google.

Simon Hsing, a spokesman for Foxconn flagship Hon Hai Precision Industry, declined to comment.

Two floors of the building will be dedicated to the incubator, while start-ups chosen for the trial may be housed in temporary offices or at Foxconn facilities in Taipei City, the people said.

As many as 20 start-ups will be selected, with funding likely to be about NT$1 million each, the people said. Syntrend also plans to work with local and international universities to promote student programs and to sponsor start-up competitions, they said.

While the focus will be on developing hardware, Syntrend may also support software start-ups such as mobile application developers that include wearable or connected device technologies, according to the people familiar with the plan.

Taipei-based Hon Hai posted a 0.8 percent drop in revenue for the January to November period, it said in an e-mail yesterday, making it unlikely to meet Gou’s own long-term goal for annual revenue growth. Its stock has fallen 2.6 percent this year in Taipei.


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