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Hon Hai to invest NT$10 billion in AI over next 5 years

2018/02/02 18:37:10

Taipei, Feb. 2 (CNA) Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., the world's largest contract electronics maker, is planning to invest NT$10 billion (US$342 million) in artificial intelligence (AI) over the next five years, Chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘) said Friday.

Speaking in a technology conference to announce the establishment by Hon Hai of an AI development lab, Gou said the AI investment over the next five years will develop applications, especially for those used in industrial Internet.

Gou said the investment is likely to top the NT$10 billion mark, emphasizing that spending money on AI investment is never a worry for Hon Hai.

Through the massive investment, Gou said, Hon Hai, known outside Taiwan as Foxconn, will be pushing in particular for Internet applications for medical care in Taiwan and in the United States.

Gou said Hon Hai's AI development in the health area is aimed at better utilizing big data technology in the Taiwan and U.S. markets.

The announcement in AI investment was made by Gou after a special shareholder meeting of Hon Hai held Wednesday approved a proposal to allow shares of subsidiary Foxconn Industrial Internet Co. Ltd. (FII) to launch an initial public offering on the Shanghai Stock Exchange to tap the growing industrial Internet market in China.

The efforts made by Hon Hai in industrial Internet through AI development shows the company's determination to integrate its hardware and software strengths and eventually boost its global competitive edge.

Under Gou's blueprint in global development, Hon Hai is extending its reach beyond contract production.

Lu Fang-ming (呂芳銘), vice chairman of Hon Hai, told the technology conference that his group is planning to hire about 100 AI specialists in the initial stage of the NT$10 billion investment project.

So far, Hon Hai has established cooperation with flat panel unit Innolux Corp. to develop production automation, as the group sees AI development as an irreversible trend in the global industrial community and more investment shows Hon Hai's commitment to the arena.

In addition to the recruitment of outside AI specialists, Lu said, Hon Hai is also encouraging its employees to learn about AI to strengthen their ability to meet innovation needs.

Lu said Hon Hai will work with academia and provide scholarships in a bid to further boost its AI talent pool.

After the establishment of the Taipei AI lab, the Hon Hai executive said, the group will set up similar labs in Kaohsiung, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Nanjing and Beijing, while Japan and the U.S. are expected to see similar AI labs opened by the group.

(By Chung Jung-feng and Frances Huang)