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Samsung Says Startups Are Its Secret Sauce

On just this past Monday, Samsung said that its evolution as a company depends on “cultivating deep relationships” with startups and startup ecosystems, on a global level. Samsung, the South Korean tech giant, is most known for its Galaxy smartphone line that closely compete with Apple’s iPhone.

What do they mean when they say that startups are the “secret ingredient’ to innovation?

“The future is about the thoughtful integration of hardware and software. And that means startups,” said David Eun, EVP of Samsung’s Global Innovation Center.

Earlier this month, Samsung announced its new SmartThings Hub at IFA in Berlin. SmartThings Hub is the name of an open ecosystem push into the Internet of Things (IoT) space, the fruit of an estimated $200 million acquisition of SmartThings in August of last year. They believe the Internet of Things will be its next big driver.

samsungSamsung said that for it to evolve its software and service presence and to continue building compelling consumer experiences, they are cultivating relationships with startups in Silicon Valley, New York City and other major cities home to startups. The relationships are built on four main pillars: investments, partnerships, acquisitions, and an accelerator program in SF and NYC. Through work with startups no matter the stage of development, the Global Innovation Center engages with entrepreneurs in different capacities, offering them more opportunities than would just one investment.

Last week, Samsung pledged to increase their efforts to better support startups locally, in South Korea. To do this, they plan to encourage entrepreneurship, help founders reach overseas markets, and create synergies for the regional economy.

“We have seen the achievements in fostering a venture business ecosystem which we aimed for when the [Center for Creative Economy & Innovation] was established, said Samsung’s president Lee Sang-hoon recently. “We will strengthen support programs for the creative economy to vitalize the regional economy.”

Daegu, the new Samsung center, was created with South Korea’s ministry of science, ICT and future planning. Meanwhile, Samsung still plans to provide support to build a startup environment. To share its vision for the future of tech and introduce concepts not yet realized, the company reopened its D’light experience store in Seoul. This was around the same time leaks surfaced showing Samsung’s foldable “Project Valley” smartphone which might be introduced the following year. It seems to be clear that Samsung desires to an a real innovator in the industry, not just a follower, and they choose to use startups to accomplish that goal.