SK Telecom, Hyundai, Hanwha & Element AI launch $45m AI fund

Korean conglomerates SK Telecom, Hyundai Motor Company, Hanwha & Element AI have partnered to launch a $45-million artificial intelligence (AI) fund with a mandate to invest globally in AI startups.

The corporate alliance among the Korean corporates is meant to accelerate open AI innovation in the country. The fund is actively managed by all three corporates, with Element AI providing investment advisory.

The new fund targets sectors with promising commercial AI applications and infrastructure that includes autonomous vehicles, household robots, manufacturing, drones, and hardware.

The fund is designed to use Element AI’s extensive domain knowledge, research and proprietary pipeline to source, assess, and invest in startups focused on applying AI in advanced technologies.

Additionally, Hyundai is planning to establish a corporate venture capital (CVC) office in Shenzhen, China, by the first quarter of 2018 to complement the one in Silicon Valley, California.

In a statement, Element AI CEO Jean-François Gagné said, “Infusing large companies with artificial intelligence capabilities is the future of global industrialization. Our position in the marketplace gives us extraordinary access to the most cutting-edge technologies being developed today — all we need are partners and capital commitment to seed the future and that’s what we’re achieving today with this announcement.”

“SK Telecom, Hyundai, and Hanwha share our passion for investment and building the future; I’m excited we can now work together to create a new global, industrial reality that will serve our local communities well.”

SK Telecom is in the process of establishing what it terms an “ICT industrial ecosystem” and is also launching NUGU, an AI speaker service in Korea, as well as launching a connected car. In October, it launched the ‘Around Alliance’, an alliance of industry-academia and collegiate autonomous vehicles, to secure autonomous driving technology.

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