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Conglomerates foster growth of internal startup units

Samsung employees selected as C-Lab project team members pose at their office in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, Monday. (Samsung Electronics)
Samsung employees selected as C-Lab project team members pose at their office in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, Monday. (Samsung Electronics)


South Korean conglomerates are increasing their support for startups created and spun off by their own employees, the companies said Monday. The move is part of an effort to strengthen the country’s startup ecosystem by encouraging creative business ideas and technological innovation, they said.

Samsung Electronics said it had selected five outstanding projects pitched by its employees this year, with the goal of spinning them out as independent units.

The tech titan’s in-house startup incubation program, known as C-Lab Inside, introduced in 2012, has produced a total of 45 startups since 2015 with the participation of 163 Samsung employees.

Samsung funded the startups in the amount of 55 billion won altogether. The collective value of the firms has more than tripled since their inception, according to Samsung.

This year’s startup projects supported by Samsung are Blockbuster, Hyler, Haxby, SunnyFive and RootSensor.

Blockbuster is a video editing application that allows content creators to apply computer graphics and 3D effects to videos with their smartphones.

Hyler is a smart highlighter that allows analog text to be digitized and transferred to mobile devices.

Haxby is an AI-based smart study service that records incorrect answers from workbooks and recommends worksheets based on the learner’s ability level.

SunnyFive is a window-shaped lighting device that produces artificial sunlight, allowing the user to enjoy the full spectrum of light produced by the sun’s passage through the sky during the day.

RootSensor is a new type of sensor that records daily exposure to ultraviolet light.

One of C-Lab’s highest-profile companies is Swallaby. Spun off from Samsung in 2015, the startup has developed an application that provides guidelines to prevent coronavirus infection and donated it to the Seoul Metropolitan Government.

“These results illustrate Samsung’s commitment to investing in employee-driven innovation and promoting the South Korean startup ecosystem,” said Hahn In-kuk, vice president and head of the Creativity & Innovation Center at Samsung. “Going forward, we will continue working to unlock Samsung employees’ potential for creative innovation while encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit.”

Hyundai Motor Group also announced that it would spin off four in-house units as independent startups this month.

They are Mycel, MP SOL, Wonder Move and Elmcad. The companies have developed cutting-edge materials for automobiles, metal power for 3D printing, data-based carpool services and 3D automobile design solutions.

The automaker’s incubation program has nurtured 53 startups and spun off 16 since 2000.

“Through the incubation program, the company will explore new, promising businesses and continue cooperation with the startups after the spinoffs,” the automaker said.

By Song Su-hyun (song@heraldcorp.com)



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