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LG invests in a SoftBank-led fund

Nov 27,2019
Four LG companies are investing 20 billion won ($17 million) in a fund recently formed by SoftBank Ventures Asia, which is wholly owned by Tokyo-based SoftBank Group.

The four companies making the investment are LG Electronics, LG Chem, LG U+ and LG CNS, and the fund is the Growth Acceleration Fund, which was formed in July 2019.

Initial capital commitments to the Korea-formed partnership totaled 317 billion won. Most of the funding came from SoftBank companies, with some participation by the National Pension Service.

The fund will invest in early-stage start-ups.

“We plan to use the recent investment to seek ‘open innovation’ opportunities through collaboration with AI [or artificial intelligence] start-ups in and outside the country,” LG said in a statement Tuesday.

AI technology has been a core initiative for the conglomerate recently. Last year, it established LG Technology Ventures in Santa Clara, California, with 500 billion won of capital.

On Tuesday, LG Group hosted a conference where 600 employees working in AI and data got together to share recent technology trends and updates.

At the event, LG unveiled a development tool which it says can reduce time consumed for deep learning by 30 percent. This is possible because the tool is based on a public cloud that enables access to multiple graphic processing units (GPU) at once.

“Competence in AI technology is linked to how much data one possesses, cutting-edge algorithms and computer hardware that ensures fast processing speed,” LG explained. “With its fast speed, GPUs have taken on the role of supercomputers in developing products and services in fields like telecommunications and bioengineering.”

The tool has a user interface that allows developers to use it by clicking buttons on the screen instead of coding scripts in C, a computer language.

Leading the drive is LG Group’s Chairman Koo Kwang-mo, who took the helm last year.

“Digital transformation is a necessary change we have to go through in order to create new customer value and enhance our competence,” he stressed in a CEO meeting last September, calling for “radical disruption” in business and development.

BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]