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Samsung ploughing $1bn into new Silicon Valley innovation hub

Samsung has formally unveiled a new Silicon Valley innovation centre and two funds worth $1.1 billion (£699m) that are intended to help find the "next big thing" in tech.

The Samsung Strategy and Innovation Center is headquartered on Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park, California, which is also home to Facebook. The centre will also have additional offices in Israel and Korea, and will be led by Young Sohn, president and chief strategy officer of device solutions at Samsung Electronics.

"We see tremendous opportunities and transformations over the next five years driven by Big Data centered around mobility, cloud, and the Internet of Things, and Samsung will be a significant part of this revolution," Sohn said in a statement. "This is an exciting opportunity for us to engage with entrepreneurs and innovators and empower them to leverage Samsung's technology and global brand presence to bring our collective visions to market."

The initial focus of the centre, Samsung said, will be cloud infrastructure, mobile privacy, Internet of Things, human interface, and mobile health. To get things started, Samsung will host the SamsungCreate Challenge later this year, which will call on artists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and other innovators to pitch their best ideas for how best to improve lives with technology.

Samsung plans to hand out $10 million (£6.35m) in seed investments for winners, as well as incubation and support from SSIC's Innovation and Technology fellows and partnerships with Samsung R&D technologists. More details will be released later this year.

Funding will come from the $100 million (£63.4m) Samsung Catalyst Fund. That, "together with the $1 billion Samsung Ventures America Fund, [will] fuel innovative technologies and business models through all stages of business," Samsung said.

Samsung said it is also interested in strategic alliance and merger opportunities.

News of Samsung setting up an incubator in Silicon Valley first cropped up in November, but Samsung stayed mum. In September, however, the company said it would expand and relocate to a new, 8.5-acre campus in Mountain View - Google's hometown.

"The R&D Center will provide a state-of-the-art campus that can support the current rapid growth in the organisation, and also provide the infrastructure to support Samsung's open innovation and university collaboration activities," the company said at the time.