Samsung Electronics has invested in Israeli semiconductor firm Wiliot with Amazon, continuing its aggressive move to seek out future growth business from the beginning of the year.
Samsung Venture Investment Corp., the venture capital arm of Samsung Electronics, has participated in a US$30 million (33.72 billion won) series B funding round of Wiliot Inc. along with Amazon Web Services Inc. and Avery Dennison Corp., one of the world’s top makers of RFID tags, according to industry sources and foreign news reports, such as Bloomberg and Globes, on Jan. 15.
Wiliot is a startup developing miniature chips for battery-free Bluetooth technology which can be used for Internet of Things (IoT) applications. The company said that its sensor tag about the size of a postage stamp uses ambient radiation as its power source so it does not need any component, including a battery. Its life is almost infinite.
This is not the first investment made by Samsung Group’s affiliates in a foreign startup this year. Globes reported that Samsung Electronics Co. is now proceeding with negotiations to acquire Corephotonics, an Israeli startup specializing in smartphone multi-camera technology, for US$150 million to US$160 million (168.60 billion won to 179.84 billion won). Corephotonics has excellent technology to such an extent that it sued Apple in 2017, alleging that Apple’s iPhone violated its four patented camera technologies.
In addition, Samsung Venture Investment has reportedly made an equity investment in a Chinese biotech startup. The company has been active in investing or acquiring foreign startups over the past 15 days. Industry watchers expect that Samsung Electronics will continue such a move in order to discover post-memory growth engines.
Samsung Electronics announced its plans to make a 180 trillion won (US$160.14 billion) investment by 2021 in August last year. The company said that 25 trillion won (US$22.24 billion) would go to four growth businesses such as artificial intelligence (AI), fifth generation (5G) wireless technology, biotech and electronic devices including semiconductors. It also allocated 20 trillion won (US$17.79 billion) out of the 25 trillion won (US$22.24 billion) for M&A funds to promote new growth businesses.