The Korea Herald


Hyundai to link 5 cities as innovation hubs

Hyundai VP says carmaker open to M&A opportunities on startups

By Cho Chung-un

Published : Jan. 8, 2018 - 10:33

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ORANGE COUNTY, California -- From Silicon Valley to Tel Aviv and Seoul, South Korean auto giant Hyundai Motor Group plans to establish five innovation hubs in cities spanning the globe and link them as one sharing platform to drive dynamic growth.

The carmaker opened Hyundai Cradle in Silicon Valley in November to support startups and discover future mobility technology. And it plans to open four more such centers, in Seoul, Tel Aviv, Berlin and Beijing within this year. “Cradle” stands for Center for Robotic-Augmented Design in Living Experiences.

John Suh, vice president of Hyundai Cradle, said that the open innovation project is aimed at surviving in a market where seeking innovative ideas from outside has become a common idea. The carmaker, which develops, designs and even manufactures automotive steel needed for car manufacturing, should let go of its business model of do-everything-by-itself, he added. 

John Suh, vice president of Hyundai Cradle (Hyundai Motor) John Suh, vice president of Hyundai Cradle (Hyundai Motor)

“(The plan) is to secure global talents and strategic and technological experiments,” Suh explained in a meeting with Korean reporters visiting Hyundai USA’s headquarters on Saturday. “Each office provides a unique window into business opportunities and technological development.”

Suh has been leading Hyundai Ventures, the predecessor of Hyundai Cradle, to support startups and discover future mobility technology. The list of US startup includes SoundHounds that provides voice recognition and driving assistance system using artificial intelligence platform, as well as WaiveCar, which rents electric and ad-laden cars for the first time in the world.

Cradle is not just to support budding enterprises with talents, but is “open” to mergers and acquisitions opportunities, he said. The vice president, however, declined to comment on the budget of Hyundai’s open innovation project.

While Hyundai Cradle is looking into the areas of artificial intelligence, mobility, self-driving, smart cities and robots, other innovation centers in the four other cities will focus on different areas for synergy.

The planned center in Beijing will seek business opportunities with major information and communication technology companies there, while one in Berlin will look into new technological advances in smart cities and mobility solutions.

Hyundai’s Seoul office will lead the offices’ open innovation activities and plans to hold a mobility forum in Seoul this year to bring creative ideas together, the company added.

By Cho Chung-un, Korea Herald correspondent  (