HyundaiKIA Automotive, Microsoft and Korea’s Institute For Information Technology Advancement (IITA) have opened an IT centre to jointly develop IT products and services for the automotive industry.

The Automotive IT Innovation Centre (AIIC) will be located within HKAG’s new research facilities in Uiwang City, south of Seoul.

The centre will focus on uncovering new IT technologies for automobiles by supporting research and development activities of small and medium IT companies based in Korea, the companies said.

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 centre will support about 20 companies a year for three years, helping the most promising candidates “develop into global players in the automotive IT sector”, a statement said.

“The collaboration between the Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group and Microsoft will have a great synergy effect that will significantly raise our businesses’ capabilities,” said Mong-Koo Chung, chairman and CEO of HKAG. “In particular, the IT centre, 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 Centre 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.”

The technologies developed at AIIC are scheduled for gradual application in Hyundai and Kia cars beginning in the second half of 2010. In particular, the IT centre 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 small- and medium-sized companies, as well as working with the Ministry of Knowledge Economy to provide policy support.