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Hyundai Motor’s 3 startups spin off ahead of schedule

By Byun Hye-jin

Published : Aug. 29, 2023 - 15:11

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Hyundai Motor Group’s inhouse startup CEOs pose for a photo at ZER01NE in Gangnam, Seoul, July 21. (Hyundai Motor Group) Hyundai Motor Group’s inhouse startup CEOs pose for a photo at ZER01NE in Gangnam, Seoul, July 21. (Hyundai Motor Group)

Hyundai Motor Group said Tuesday that its three startups -- Pitin, Madde and Evacycle -- spun off less than a year after participating in the company's in-house startup incubator program.

It usually takes more than a year for startups to become separate firms from their parent company, but they have shown great potential in the automotive and semiconductor business in just nine months, the carmaker said.

Pitin has developed a battery subscription service using refurbished batteries for commercial electric vehicles like taxis. Based on a battery swapping technology, it allows taxi drivers to pay a relatively low monthly subscription fee for quickly replacing used batteries with cost-efficient refurbished batteries.

The firm also plans to launch an insurance and a fast-charging service for commercial EV batteries.

Madde manufactures silicon carbide, a key material used in semiconductors, through 3D printing. Processing silicon carbide takes a long time and is costly because it is easy to break, but Madde’s printing technology makes the process easier and more cost-effective. The firm will expand its business into aerospace and small modular reactor.

Evacycle provides recycling solutions by extracting black powder, including lithium, nickel and cobalt, from used batteries. Penetrating into the black powder extraction business, which has a small number of competitors due to sluggish technological development and low profitability, Evacycle has received positive feedback on securing technology for designing and manufacturing key equipment that is both eco-friendly and safe, according to Hyundai.

Aiming to expand its market share, the firm plans to cut the price, amount of electricity used in the process and production time by 50 percent compared to its current processing method.

“Until now, we have nurtured a total of 76 in-house startup teams and spun off 33 startups. The company will encourage staff and executives to come up with innovative and creative ideas and assist with commercialization strategies,” Hyundai said in a statement.

Starting from 2000, Hyundai Motor Group has run an in-house startup accelerator program -- mostly linked to the automotive business -- called Venture Plaza, which changed its name to the ZER01NE Company Builder in 2021. The carmaker has also started to support small firms related to business sectors outside of the automotive industry.

Selected startups receive up to 300 million won ($227,000) in funding from Hyundai and undergo an evaluation process to assess whether it is fit for a spin-off or starting a new business within Hyundai. Staff and executives who participate in the startup business are given the opportunity to be rehired by the carmaker for up to three years after the firm becomes a separate company.