Samsung Pumping Millions into Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality Startups

January 4, 2017, 11:56 PM UTC
Photograph by Getty Images

Samsung is spending big bucks on startups tackling cutting-edge technologies.

The technology giant’s startup investment arm, Samsung NEXT, said Wednesday that it created a $150 million fund that it would use to finance early-stage startups specializing in trendy tech like artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and Internet-connected devices.

Some of the companies that have already received money from the new fund include Dashbot, which built user analytics tools for so-called software bots that automate tasks; Entry Point VR, a startup that makes tools for companies to more easily distribute virtual reality media across multiple devices; and LiquidSky, which makes video game streaming technology.

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“We see software and services becoming a core part of Samsung Electronics’ DNA, and startups are key to achieving this vision,” Samsung NEXT President David Eun said in a statement.

The new fund comes after Samsung (SSNLF) changed the name of its startup investment arm from the Samsung Global Innovation Center, and opened a Tel Aviv office in September.

Samsung NEXT, which has offices in San Francisco, Korea, New York, and Mountain View, Calif. will open more offices in 2017, but Samsung did not say where.

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Other big technology companies have created similar investment funds to fuel technologies like artificial intelligence and virtual reality, which are generating a lot of interest from investors and analysts.

For example, HTC (HTC), which makes the Vive virtual reality headset, debuted a $100 million investment fund targeting virtual reality focussed startups in April.

And more recently, Microsoft said its startup investment arm, Microsoft Ventures, created an A.I. specific fund with the startup Element AI receiving an undisclosed amount of money in December. Element AI, whose co-founder Yoshua Bengio is considered a pioneer in the burgeoning field of deep learning, works with companies to incorporate various A.I. technologies for their businesses.

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