Samsung Electronics has opened a branch of its early-stage technology investment program in Tel Aviv to tap into the innovative engineering Israel is known for.
“In Israel you have perhaps the greatest amount of talent per square foot than anywhere in the world,” said Kai Bond, the general manager of Samsung GIC New York, “If you want to leapfrog competition you can’t wait to play in an established market.”
Samsung NEXT Tel Aviv will focus primarily in such areas as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, virtual and augmented reality technologies, the Internet of Things, and big data technologies.
“Samsung is known for its hardware, but we want to build a significant center for investments in software,” said Eyal Miller, Managing Director and CEO of Samsung NEXT Tel Aviv, at a press conference. He added. ” The company believes that its way forward will be by combining its hardware activities with software.”
Samsung NEXT Tel Aviv will invest and work with start-ups at every stage of development through incubation, investment from seed to Series B, acquisition and partnership, said Miller. The idea is to get projects off the ground, help them grow and get them ready for an acquisition by Samsung or any other exit that best suits the companies.
Under a special Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) program, Samsung NEXT Tel Aviv will also make investments in experienced entrepreneurs for up to 24 months. The program is designed to help entrepreneurs with ideas, and rapidly develop, test, launch and scale new products using Samsung’s global resources. The goal is for them to achieve funding or an acquisition offer by the end of the program, Miller said, adding Samsung NEXT is already working with a number of Israeli entrepreneurs and will announce its first start-up investment shortly.
“We want to help Israeli software companies grow by leveraging Samsung’s unique expertise and scale,” said Miller, who formerly worked for Google and set up Google’s Tel Aviv campus. “While our focus is working with entrepreneurs and start-ups who are primarily developing software technology, we will also provide a community and resources for entrepreneurs of all kinds.”
Samsung NEXT, which operates within GIC, would be the fourth Samsung program set up in Israel over the past 10 years. Other activities in the country include investments by Samsung’s venture arm, the Runway program in Yakum which integrates Israeli technology into Samsung business units, and Samsung’s Ramat Gan offices which invest in early-stage technologies.