Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group, Microsoft Corp. and Korea's Institute for Information Technology Advancement (IITA) opened an IT Center to jointly develop new IT products and services for automotive application.

Kia Motors Corp. President Mr. Euisun Chung, Microsoft CEO Mr. Steve Ballmer and IITA President Mr. Sung-Ok Lee were joined by other government officials and corporate executives from Hyundai-Kia, Microsoft and other officials from the information technology industry for the opening, which was held at Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group (HKAG)'s headquarters in Seoul.

"The collaboration between the Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group and Microsoft will have a great synergy effect that will significantly raise our businesses' capabilities," said Mr. Mong-Koo Chung, Chairman & CEO of HKAG. "In particular, the IT center, which will be a new platform of cooperation between private companies and the government, will serve as a role model for other industries."

"Microsoft and Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group share a similar vision for the role that information technology will play in connecting people to information, communications and entertainment while they are in their cars," said Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft.

"We're excited by the opportunities this new Automotive IT Innovation Center will create for Microsoft, Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group, and Institute for Information Technology to continue to work together to develop new innovations that will make the time that people spend in their cars more productive and enjoyable than ever before."

Before the opening ceremony, Mr. Ballmer met Mong-Koo Chung to discuss cooperation between the automobile and IT industries. Kia Motors' Mr. Chung hosted the opening ceremony.

The jointly-formed Automotive IT Innovation Center (AIIC) will be located within HKAG's new research facilities in Uiwang City, south of Seoul.

Automotive IT Innovation Center

The opening of the AIIC builds on the HKAG and Microsoft joint announcement made in May to cooperate on the development of the next generation of in-car infotainment systems.

The AIIC will focus on uncovering new IT technologies for automobiles by supporting research and development activities of small and medium IT companies based in Korea. HKAG will provide the facilities and cars for technical testing and vehicle application, while Microsoft will assume responsibility for software development and launch into the global market. IITA will extend financial support to eligible small and medium IT enterprises. The Center will support about 20 companies a year for three years, helping the most promising candidates develop into global players in the automotive IT sector.

The technologies developed at AIIC are scheduled for gradual application in Hyundai and Kia cars beginning in the second half of 2010. The IT center will focus on developing technologies such as auto telecommunication, telematics, navigation systems and Location Based Service (LBS), and improving the Human Machine Interface (HMI).

The IITA will provide as much as 200 million won per project in funding for outstanding small- and medium-sized companies, as well as working with the Ministry of Knowledge Economy to provide more policy support.