Samsung is putting Israel
on the map again: The global technology giant on Tuesday launched its new initiative, an international innovation and strategy center. The center's headquarters will be located in Menlo Park in California's Silicon Valley, but it will have two branches – one in South Korea (Samsung's country of origin) and one in the central Israeli city of Ramat Gan.
The new center will be headed by Young Sohn, Samsung's chief strategy officer, who was appointed just four months ago. Yedioth Ahronoth has learned that Young Sohn visited Israel two weeks ago and that this week's announcement is a direct result of that visit.
The innovation center's Israeli branch will be established under Samsung Semiconductor's existing research and development center in Ramat Gan. Samsung executives are said to be extremely satisfied with the R&D center's performance and results, which have prompted them to open one of the new initiative's branches in Israel.
The new center is part of Samsung's comprehensive strategic plan aimed at increasing investment in research and development.
The Israeli technology Samsung plans to invest in will eventually reach the company's future products.
Samsung's new investments in Israel, as part of the innovation and strategy center, will focus on three areas: Investment in young Israeli startup companies, whether through a direct investment of capital or through active cooperation aimed at advancing developments and technologies matching Samsung's future plans; investment in the Israeli academia, whether by funding research being conducted in the country's universities or by taking ideas and studies created in the academia and developing them into a company and product in collaboration with the R&D center in Ramat Gan; and investment in local venture capital funds investing in Israeli startups.
Employees at Samsung Semiconductor's R&D center in Ramat Gan have been holding intensive rounds of meetings with many companies in recent months in an attempt to find the suitable candidates for cooperation and investments.
The new center will in fact be a wing of Global Samsung, through which the company will expand its activity in Israel. Acquisitions of local companies may follow, according to estimates.
Young Sohn said in a press conference in Silicon Valley on Tuesday that the company was likely to carry out both major and small acquisitions in the near future.
The technologies the new center will focus on will not necessarily be smartphones and tablets, but would rather be part of a long-term outlook: LED screens, medical products, cloud technologies, data protection and other technologies meant to serve as growth engines for the company.
The semiconductor center, for example, does not develop chips but rather sensors for cameras and phones, digital picture processors and technologies in the field of computer vision.
Samsung is basically trying to become a leading company which reinvents new technological fields and categories. The decision to establish one of its innovation centers in the Jewish state implies that it is going to do so using Israeli technology.
The volume of Samsung's financial investment in Israel will be determined according to the number of projects and investments. But the potential is clearly huge: Samsung has announced the start of a new $100-billion investment fund, which will invest in larger companies as well. Part of this money will also reach Israel.
In fact, Samsung is conveying the message that it has available money for the Israeli market and that the projects for investment must be found.
Samsung's relationship with Israel has been particularly strong for many years now. Apart from the R&D center in Ramat Gan, which employs some 200 workers and is based on the Transchip company acquired by Samsung in 2007, there is another R&D center in Yakum, alongside the marketing activity and import of the company's products.