SAN JOSE/PALO ALTO, Calif. ― Samsung Electronics is pushing ahead to find new revenue streams with the Internet of Things (IoT), mobile health and mobile payment sectors. Its new California technology center is leading the way.
A senior Samsung Electronics executive said its growth will come throughout aggressive investments in ventures and acquisitions deals and the company believes the shifts fall in line with its initiative for “disruptive innovation.”
“Leadership in core businesses is not enough for our success,” said Young Sohn, president and chief strategy officer at Samsung Strategy Innovation Center (SSIC), in a news conference to Korean reporters, last week.
The executive, who had previously worked at Intel, stressed that the SSIC should be adaptive to find “something new” for corporate sustainability.
“This is how IT is developing,” he said. “There will be more disruptions in a broader range of industries.”
Samsung invited Korean reporters to the opening of three of its latest U.S. research offices, two of which are the Global Innovation Center (GIC) and Samsung Research America (SRA) on the sidelines of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
According to Sohn, more undergraduates and graduates from top schools around Silicon Valley are applying to the centers, helping the company build networks and recruit promising human resources.
The SSIC was established in 2013 within the device solutions division of the electronics giant, playing a pivotal role in catching up with Silicon Valley’s fast-changing industrial ecosystem.
Sohn said Samsung had looked into more than 1,000 companies last year, investing in 54 firms among them. He cited LoopPay as one of the most successful examples.
In April last year, Samsung acquired the U.S.-based mobile payment company, in a move to launch its own payment platform, Samsung Pay.
“Silicon Valley is an important marketplace where industry ecosystems are established,” he said. “Therefore, establishing a successful foothold here is an essential part of our business.”
GIC and SRA
The GIC has been at the center of investing and incubating startups in Silicon Valley since its founding in 2012.
“What we are trying to do is to make a mixture of a lot of great things between hardware and software,” said David Eun, president at the GIC. “We want to bring the best practices and learning of Silicon Valley to Korea, and vice versa.”
In 2014, Samsung acquired SmartThings, the U.S.-based smart home software provider, in its bid to be a market leader in both hardware and software.
“Samsung is a leader in hardware,” he said. “When you make hardware, everything must be perfect. In software, things are exactly the opposite. You must build something quickly and launch it quickly, get data and have to send it out again and again, doing many updates.”
The GIC has invested in 37 startups working in technology sectors including big data, IoT, virtual reality and even mobile commerce.
The SRA is a facility where the company comes up with innovative concepts that undergo feasibility tests for new devices. The company’s latest smart watch, Gear S2, was also conceptualized here.
“Gear S2’s rotating bezel was designed and finalized here,” said Mark Bernstein, senior vice president at SRA. “The notion of having a display with no visible connections is something that we can do here.”
The SRA executive also said the company’s U.S. research arm is also collaborating with a number of universities to realize what he calls “connected life” through Samsung devices.
“We have a number of collaborative projects with universities here, including Stanford, Berkeley and the University of California, San Francisco,” he said, adding the company is also teaming up with 14 Silicon Valley automobile labs.
“We collaborate with them in terms of understanding the role of Samsung devices in this integrated, intelligent and connected life. We have partnerships with a number of different industry domains including healthcare.”