We aim to make over 100 investments in India in the next 3-5 years - Aloknath De, VP & CTO, Samsung R&D Institute
Samsung’s investment arm, Samsung Venture Investment Corporation (SVIC), on Wednesday announced that it has made four maiden investments in India. The investments total to $8.5 million. In a conversation with YourStory, Aloknath De, Corporate VP and CTO, spoke about the firm's plans.
Since 1999, Samsung Investment Corporation (SVIC) has been investing in the US, UK, China, and Japan. This year, the investment firm announced it will now invest in Indian startups. The team announced that it has invested in a system apps company Indus OS, speech technology startup Gnani.ai, IoT solutions provider Silvan Innovation Labs and an undisclosed early stage computer vision startup.
The four investments are strategic in nature. Recently, Samsung had partnered with IndusOS Labs to launch the new Galaxy Store, powered by Indus App Bazaar, which brings app discovery and download experience to consumers in 12 local Indian languages.
Similarly, its investment in Gnani’s ASR engine has the potential to power Samsung’s Bixby vernacular service in the future. With an installed base of over 6,000 homes and 12 live communities, Silvan’s products and IoT platform will add value to Samsung’s efforts to have all its products IoT ready by 2020.
The SVIC team added that it is actively investing in future-oriented businesses based on new and innovative technologies that are expected to serve as new growth engines.
In a conversation with YourStory, Aloknath De, Corporate VP and CTO, Samsung R&D Institute, spoke about the company's plans and investments.
YourStory: Can you tell us about the investments that SVIC is looking at in India?
Aloknath De: Our global entity has been investing in different countries - the US, UK, China, NS Japan. We have invested over $2.2 billion since our inception in 1999 into multiple dimensions. We look for companies that could possibly work closely with our group companies. Thus our focus is on emerging topics like AI, IoT, and AR/VR.
We have already invested $8.5 million in startups in India and are looking at early to growth stage investments to the tune of $1million to $5 million. We hope to make over 100 investments in early and growth stage companies. These investments can be solely by SVIC or even in partnership with other investors.
YS: When did you choose to invest in Indian startups?
AD: Effectively we started our R&D work in India over 23 years back. We have been focussing on in-house innovations and building patent pending technologies. The next step was to work on open innovation partnerships with governments and different startups.
In 2015, we started engaging with startups and many of them have worked towards building apps for our operating system – Tizen. We also built the Iris Tab on which over 125 startups created citizen solutions. We also built deeper level partnerships, where we worked with InMobi, and added its ‘Glance’ as a platform in our smartphones; we also worked with Haptik on the conversational AI piece.
Now we see that the Indian startup ecosystem has matured with early stage companies working on top-of-the-line technology and services, especially in areas like Artificial Intelligence, IoT, cloud and other emerging technology solutions as well as services.
YS: What is the differentiator that SVIC brings to startups as compared to other investment firms?
AD: There are different levels we engage with companies. First thing we see in startups here is that there is room for improvement in their packaging and outline of the solutions, We are jointly participating - helping them as a bigger company. We also help startups with business modelling, tech licensing, and revenue models.
Startups tend to focus on mainstream, but many times you need UX help and scenarios that can be broader. They can look to optimise on the device, and look at patenting. For this they can tap into our larger design and group help. And this is what separates us.