Samsung has become a massive investor in Israeli start-ups over the past year. Samsung Electronics President and Chief Strategy Officer Young Sohn said that the South Korean electronics giant invested in eight Israeli companies in 2014. “We are no longer the giant that buys companies, but rather a partner. This is a change in our thinking. We invest a lot of money in start-ups around the world. Our investments have reached $1.4 billion, to date. Our investments start at $250,000, and can reach as much as $25 million.”
Sohn declined to reveal the total amount that Samsung has invested in Israeli companies. “We don’t just provide money to start-ups. We allow them to participate in our incubator.” Sohn says that Israel is second only to Silicon Valley in total investment from Samsung.
Sohn said, “Our most recent investment in Israel was in EarlySense. Through our investment in them, we are helping to make the product commercially viable. Sohn added, “We want to take a leading role in what we call ‘the smart life era.’ We have a close partnership with the Israeli start-up community, and Israel, as one of the global centers of entrepreneurship and innovation, certainly interests us, as a base for future technologies that can influence the lives of millions.”
Samsung has invested in Israeli companies such as StoreDot, which is developing technology to charge a smartphone in 2 minutes, RePlay , developer of FreeD technology, which creates 3-dimensional 360° video, and EarlySense, developer of hardware that makes it possible to monitor a patient’s vital signs without attaching the device to the patient’s body. This product is placed under the patient’s bed and transmits information wirelessly to a smartphone.
Another company is MV4D, which creates “4D” videos, which can, for example, create a video of a girl dancing, in which it’s possible to switch the background, and to add props to her virtual surroundings.
Sohn explained which Israeli start-up fields Samsung is seeking to invest in: “As an electronics company, we need to know what people want, for example, better health. We want a product that knows more about health. What exists today is a toy, what will exist in the future is very important to us. Another field is security. We need a product that knows how to analyze the security that each person needs for his or her data. Another field is communications - there are still opportunities to improve the interfaces. For example, for a device to recognize the user when he or she unlocks the phone, and know what the user wants. Another thing is good entertainment - to get content anywhere, without someone telling the user what he wants.”
Sohn also addressed the position of Samsung Electronics, which had $189 billion in revenue last year, in the global market: “2014 was a difficult year. We did not grow much in it, in terms of revenue - because of competition with Chinese companies, and also companies with more expensive products. We will not see significant growth this year in televisions, because people already have big TVs. A similar thing is happening with smartphones as well. That’s why we are seeking out start-ups; to bring us new categories.”
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on February 1, 2015
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