South Korean mobile giant Samsung has started a new growth plan in India with its venture capital arm, Samsung Venture Investment Corporation (SVIC). The company has announced an investment worth $8.5 Mn in four Indian startups— IndusOS, Gnani.ai, Silvan Innovation Labs and an early stage computer vision startup.
In a statement, the company said these four investments by SVIC in Indian startups are strategic in nature. SVIC has also marked its entry into India with these four investments.
As investment arm of Samsung, SVIC is actively investing in future-oriented businesses based on new and innovative technologies that are expected to serve as new growth engines. The company invests in early to late stage startups that have a strategic fit with Samsung Group’s products and goals.
The venture capital arm was established to promote promising companies engaging in the development of new technologies. As of March 2019, SVIC has over $2.2 Bn in assets under management.
Dr. Aloknath De, corporate vice president and chief technology officer, Samsung R&D Institute Bengaluru, said, “The Indian startup ecosystem has matured over the last few years with early stage companies working on top of the line technology and services, especially in areas like Artificial Intelligence, IoT, cloud and other emerging technology solutions as well as services.”
He added, “Samsung is committed to work with and invest in promising Indian startups. This will be a win-win for both as it will help startups scale their solutions through this deep engagement while we get an opportunity to enrich our offerings to our consumers.”
The company has invested in:
- Mumbai-based mobile operating system and native applications platform Indus OS
- Bengaluru-based automatic speech recognition startup Gnani.ai
- Bengaluru-based IoT solutions for homes and enterprises startup Silvan Innovation Labs
- an early stage computer vision startup
The company emphasised that it had integrated the Indus OS’ app store – App Bazaar – which has more than 400K regional apps in 12 local languages such as Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi, Tamil and Telugu, besides English – into its own app store which will be available on all Samsung smartphones as a revamped Galaxy App Store.
“As we look to offer the Indus experience to wider audiences, these funds will help us reach our goal of empowering 100 million Indian users with a content and commerce platform in the language of their choice, thus ensuring a truly inclusive digital growth and an enriched user experience for everyone,” said Rakesh Deshmukh, cofounder and CEO, OSLabs.
Talking about Gnani.ai, the company said it works in the space of automatic speech recognition and natural language processing in Indic languages for building voice assistants and for speech analytics. Samsung’s investment in Gnani’s ASR engine has the potential to power Samsung’s Bixby vernacular service in the future.
“This investment is a reaffirmation of our expertise in speech recognition technologies. We stay committed to our goal to continue being the leading speech recognition engine in Indic languages for voice assistant, call automation and speech analytics applications for multiple customers,” said Ganesh Gopalan, founder and CEO, Gnani.ai.
On the other hand, Silvan Innovation Labs is in IoT solutions for homes and enterprises and has pioneered solutions for smart spaces. With an installed base of over 6,000 homes and 12 live communities, Silvan’s products and IoT platform will add value to Samsung’s efforts to have all its products IoT ready by 2020.
“IoT is a big and complex market and strategic partnerships are needed for companies to leverage each other’s strengths to address market needs. Towards that, we are extremely pleased to partner with Samsung Venture, given their deep understanding and reach of various markets,” said Avinash K Gautam, CEO, Silvan Innovation Labs.
In 2018, Samsung invested over $15 Bn on R&D through its 36 R&D centres globally and also announced it will invest $22 Bn over the next three years in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), 5G, automotive electronics components and biopharmaceuticals that will drive its future growth.
According to DataLabs by Inc42, the total recorded funding of Indian startups in H1 2019 was $5.85 Bn across 360 deals. However, India has a handful of startups in sectors such as deeptech. DataLabs noted that with its inability to attract significant venture capital, deeptech – which is a combination of artificial intelligence, internet of things, drones and robotics – still struggles to shine among its peers.
In the first quarter of 2019, the deeptech sector recorded a total investment of $9.58 Mn, a mere 1% compared to ecommerce ($958 Mn). As Samsung looks to invest in the deeptech segment and chart a way forward for mutual benefit, the Indian deeptech sector can see much-needed growth.