Citing a statement by Samsung Electronics, the move would enable the South Korean consumer electronics giant to respond quickly to changes in the market. The AI research center would be a joint effort for the company’s mobile and consumer electronics businesses. Samsung hasn’t stated yet where the research center will be located.
The company is also enhancing the business development role of Chief Strategy Officer Young Sohn to look for new business opportunities in components, mobile and consumer electronics. Sohn was behind the company’s $8 billion acquisition of Harman International and currently oversees the Samsung Strategy and Innovation Center located in San Jose and San Francisco.
Samsung has been increasingly focusing on AI and is on the hunt for new investments in the technology. In late October, Ant Financial, the financial arm of China’s Alibaba, and Samsung led a $40 million fundraising round for DeePhi Tech, a Chinese artificial intelligence startup. China Money Network stated that China Merchants Capital and China Growth Capital also took part in the Series A+ round of venture capital fundraising.
Samsung is interested in DeePhi’s neural network-based AI chipsets that go into portable devices. With them, there is instant speech recognition, neural language processing and other tasks for mobile devices and smartphones.
The South Korean electronics company has already invested in another AI startup — Graphcore of the U.K. — which happened last October. DeePhi had previously turned down an investment from SK Telecom, the South Korean wireless phone carrier.
The move on the part of Samsung to invest in an AI startup comes at a time when the company is enhancing Bixby, its digital voice-activated assistant, and is facing a challenge from Apple, which recently launched the iPhone X, a smartphone that has an AI chip built into the device.