Innovation Works will concentrate on Internet, mobile Internet, and cloud computing technology advancements targeted at the Greater China market, and build "dream teams" to collect, analyze, prioritize and execute on the most promising ideas, according to a statement. Lee will serve as Innovation Works chairman and CEO.
"Innovation Works will be the de-facto institution for launching the most promising technology ideas in China," Lee said. "Through the rigorous development and testing of prototypes, and identification of a 'founding executive' to lead the venture, Innovation Works will provide capital, manpower, legal, financial and IT support. Our commitment is to mentoring and supporting the next-generation of Chinese entrepreneurs so that they can focus on building great products without distraction."
Innovation Works will be funded with $115 million from venture capital groups and investors including Steve Chen (co-founder of YouTube), Foxconn Technology Group, Legend Group and New Oriental Education & Technology Group. WI Harper Group is the lead VC investor
Dr. Lee has been led Google China since 2005, when he was wrested away from Microsoft in a highly publicized contract battle. At Microsoft, Dr. Lee had led Microsoft Research Asia from 1998 to 2000, and led Microsoft's .Net efforts after that.
The loss of Lee could put Google back in its push into the Chinese market. The search giant remains in second place to Baidu, and has faced a tough road battling censorship demands by Chinese authorities.