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Intel Capital looking to invest $100M in connected car tech

Intel Capital will invest $100 million over the next three to five years in companies that accelerate adoption of connected vehicle services.

Intel's in-vehicle infotainment technology concept.
Intel's in-vehicle infotainment concept technology. Intel

Intel Capital is placing a huge bet on the connected car market. The investment arm of the semiconductor giant announced today that it's creating a $100 million venture capital fund dedicated to investing in automotive technology.

According to Gartner forecasts, automobiles will be among the top three fastest-growing market segments for connected devices and Internet content by 2014, cites Staci Palmer, general manager of Intel's Automotive Solutions Division. That presents a new market for the technology company, and as the connected car wave rises, Intel wants to be there to ride it.

The Intel Capital Connected Car Fund is angling to accelerate adoption of connected vehicle services. Led by Brian Wolf, managing director of Intel Capital, the fund will invest in companies that facilitate seamless device connectivity and technology that advances next-gen infotainment technology. Technologies that are on Intel's horizon include gesture recognition, vehicle-to-x communication, social media application integration, and multimodal inputs, such as eye tracking, speech recognition, gesture recognition.

Most of the investments will be made over the next three to five years in private and public software and services companies all over the world. However, since the automotive market is largely lead by companies in the U.S., Germany, South Korea, Japan and China, most of the investments will likely end up in those countries.

"The intention of this fund is to get the ecosystem going and other investors will join us along the way," said Intel Capital President Arvind Sodhani in a media teleconference.

The fund will also advance Intel's ongoing work with auto makers and infotainment suppliers to integrate technology in cars. Although Intel is a relative newcomer to the automotive processor market, it has already announced partnerships with Toyota, Kia, Hyundai, BMW, and several manufacturers in China.

News of the investment fund coincided with an announcement of the new Automotive Innovation and Product Development Center in Germany. The center is an academic outreach program focused on in-vehicle infotainment sytems and telematics, and expansion of Intel Labs Experience and Interaction Research in automotive.