SEOUL — Lee Seong-chul's assignment: Give his company's vehicles an information-technology edge.
To do that, the Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group executive vice president plans to mix Korean government money, Microsoft Corp. know-how and local entrepreneurship.
Lee is in charge of the Automotive IT Innovation Center, an incubator that opened Nov. 3 in Uiwang, a city south of Seoul.
The center's backers, Hyundai-Kia, Microsoft and Korea's Ministry of Knowledge Economy, will identify local small- and medium-sized businesses with products that fit the center's focus on in-vehicle electronics.
The initial cost of the project is projected at $6.8 million to $13.7 million. So far, 89 companies have applied for funding.
Most of that money comes from an annual ministry fund that sponsors 20 companies' projects for three years. The ministry provides up to $137,000 for each company's project. Hyundai provides vehicles, engineers and space. Microsoft has sent two software engineers to work full time at the center.