Hyundai, SKT, Hanwha launch $45 million fund

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Hyundai, SKT, Hanwha launch $45 million fund


From left, Kim Yong-hyun, Hanwha Asset Management CEO; Ryu Young-sang, SK Telecom Executive Vice President and Head of Strategy Planning; Chi Young-cho, Hyundai Motor Chief Innovation Officer and Jean-Francois Gagne, Element AI CEO, hold hands at the Plaza Hotel in central Seoul, Thursday. [HYUNDAI MOTOR]

Leading Korean companies from different sectors are teaming up as they search for promising start-ups with a competitive edge in the fields of artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies.

Hyundai Motor, Korea’s top automaker, announced on Thursday that it is partnering with telecommunication service provider SK Telecom and Hanwha Asset Management, the fund-managing arm of Hanwha Group, to create a fund worth $45 million with each company contributing $15 million to the pool.

Hyundai said through a press release that the three companies will invest the money in start-ups across the globe - including those from the United States, Europe and Israel - that are developing technologies in sectors such as artificial intelligence, autotech, and fintech.

“AI Alliance Fund is established as a pre-emptive measure to the market dynamics in and outside of Korea that are rapidly changing in accordance with technological,” said the auto company in the press release.

Hyundai’s commitment to the fund is the latest in a series of efforts by the company to find and foster start-ups with technologies that will help the company stay ahead in the fast-changing automobile industry.

In September, the company formed a consortium with Technion, or the Israel Institute of Technology, and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology to collaborate on related research. It also opened an innovation center in Israel to find and incubate local start-ups earlier this month. On Tuesday, the company announced that it is expanding its investment division in Silicon Valley into a center for research and development as well as a networking hub for local and Korean start-ups.

The fund will be advised by Element AI, an AI solution and platform provider based in Montreal, Canada. The start-up was cofounded by Yoshua Benjio, a Canadian computer scientist.

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