Hyundai Motor Co. has invested 99.3 billion won (about US$87.2 million), in 22 startups and venture funds in 2018, according to data published by the company.
According to Hyundai’s 2018 business report released on March 3rd, the company actively invested in startups and venture funds at home and abroad last year to transform itself into a full-fledged ICT company. Various investments were made in the US, India, Israel, Switzerland, as well as South Korea.
The company invested 22.5 billion won (about US$19.7 million) in Mesh Korea, which operates the two-wheel-based logistics service “VROONG.” It was the largest single investment last year. Hyundai Motor is planning to develop unmanned delivery vehicles by applying self-driving technology to Mesh Korea’s logistics algorithm.
Hyundai also invested 11.3 billion won (about US$9.9 million) in Way Ray, a Swiss company specializing in augmented reality, in September last year and showcased hologram navigation developed through collaboration at the “CES 2019” held in January. Global startups that run the mobility platform are also the top targets for Hyundai’s investment.
Besides car-sharing companies in Australia and India, Hyundai Motor has also invested in J’CAR, Korea’s eco-friendly vehicle sharing company. In November last year, the company invested in Chinese startups by investing 8.2 billion won (about US$5.2 million) into the China Mobility Fund, which was created with 11.4 billion won (about US$10 million).
A reason Hyundai Motor has been actively investing in startups is that it felt limited in securing mobile platforms that have increased high-tech and convenience such as eco-friendly vehicles, self-driving, and Artificial Intelligence just by working with its own R&D and existing partners. Hyundai Motor, which witnessed leading domestic and foreign ICT companies such as Google and Naver securing high-tech and competent human resources through investment in startups, introduces self-driving cars and incorporated AI voice recognition functions.
Hyundai Motor is also making efforts to nurture startups. It has set up open innovation centres in Seoul, Silicon Valley in the US, and Tel Aviv in Israel, and will also open oones in Beijing, China, and Berlin, Germany, within this year. Hyundai Motor recently joined the Korea Startup Forum, an organization representing local startups, as a special member, indicating its intention to create an ecosystem for startups. It is the first time that a manufacturing-based company has joined the Korea Startup Forum as a special member.