Top 15 Korean AI Startups to watch for – Best of 2019

Startups in Korea are looking to incorporate AI technology into their existing product or service.  The reason is that Korean investors are investing in AI-focused companies.  The Korean government is also investing $2 billion in AI and have come out with a strategy to be a top 4 AI powerhouse by the end of 2021.  They are also looking to build six new AI schools by 2020 to educate Korean engineers in AI.  In addition, corporations are also looking to get into AI technology.  Samsung, LG, and Hyundai have shown great interest to invest in AI technologies.  Therefore, it is clear that both the Korean government, investors, and companies think AI is an important technology for Korea.

Here are the top 15 AI startups in Korea to keep an eye on for 2019

1. DAYLI Financial Group

DAYLIDAYLI Financial Group (DFG) is more of a Fintech company than an AI company.   However, they do use AI technology for financial industry solutions and digital asset management.  They are considered the top Fintech financial group in Korea.  In addition, under DFG is DAYLI Intelligence, Quarterback Asset Management, DAYLI marketplace, ICON Foundation, and cryptocurrency exchange Coinone.  Quarterback Asset Management has algorithm-driven robot advisers to run their AI-based investment management service.

2.  Flitto

Korean AI Startup FlittoKorean AI Startup Flitto is an AI-powered translation crowdsourcing platform.  Flitto has been able to collect language data through the collective intelligence of people online.  Therefore they have been able to offer high-quality language data at a very cheap price.  Their translation platform can handle many types of translation requests such as text, voice, image, and video.  YouTubers use Flitto’s translation service for creating subtitles on their videos.  Their goal for 2019 is to continue to collect language data using human translation and use that data to train their AI platform.  In addition, they will work on AI voice recognition services to keep up with the latest AI trends.

The startup has over 10 million users from over 170 countries.  However, their main revenue comes from providing data to servers like Naver, Google, and others that use machine-based translation programs.  Flitto’s data is very accurate because they take into account slangs, dialects, and pop culture terms.  Some of Flitto’s clients include Microsoft, Baidu, and Tencent jus to name a few.

3.  Standigm

StandigmStandigm a Korean AI Startup that uses AI technology for drug discovery and development.  They were able to raise a total of $15 million from Kakao Ventures, Atinum Investment, DSC Investment, LB Investment, Wonik Investment Partners, as well as Mirae Asset Venture Investment and Mirae Asset Capital.   The funds will be used to scale the AI technology platform.  Furthermore, Standigm AI has a strong reputation in the pharmaceutical industry.  For 2019 they will look to create partnerships with leading healthcare organizations to grow their pipelines.

4.  Lunit

lunitLunit is a Korean Medical AI startup that launched its new solution for mammography called Lunit Insight for Mammography.  It is a diagnostic support tool that can detect malignant lesions that could lead to breast cancer with an accuracy of 97%.  In addition, they also have the Lunit Insight for Chest Radiography which has been tested 1.5 million cases from more than 70 countries.  Using AI technology they are able to detect abnormalities with a high level of accuracy (97-99%).

5.  Skelter Labs

Korean AI Startup Skelter LabsKorean AI startup Skelter Labs licenses out their AI technology to companies and corporations.  They have expanded outside of Korea and into Japan and Southeast Asia.  Furthermore, Skelter Labs focuses on conversation including speech and NLU, and Hyper-personalization.  They target industries like manufacturing, customer service, advertising, and marketing.  For 2019 they will keep concentrating on their core technologies to become a top-level global company while also expanding their businesses to different verticals.

6.  AIZEN

Korean Startup AIZENKorean AI Startup AIZEN provides business-focused AI applications for finance.  They are the creators of an AI engine called ABACUS which can automate big data analysis for key decision-making.  AIZEN uses machine learning, deep learning, and predictive models to provide the best possible financial solution.  Furthermore, through the ABACUS platform, businesses can automate retail banking and insurance as well as predict financial patterns.  AIZEN is partnering with many banks and other financial institutions so they can use their platform to decrease risk and increase efficiency.

AIZEN Thas a joint research team at KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) who have done research on AI with IBM Watson.  They are already working with Woori Bank to implement their AI system.  In addition, they are working with the Korean government to create better finance systems using AI technology.  Their focus for 2019 will be to continue to form global partnerships.

7.  Moneybrain

Moneybrain is a Korean AI startup that researches and develops conversational AI technology.  They created the first AI chatbot for the financial industry in 2017.  This year they also developed a voice synthesis technology that sounds just like a human voice.  They are able to have conversations similar to humans.  Voice synthesis technology converts text into speech.  Furthermore, what makes Moneybrain unique is that they are able to use human intonation and accents to sound as natural as possible.  Therefore, this technology can be added to advertisements, education, and audiobooks.

8.  Roborus

Korean Robotics AI startup RoborusKorean Robotics AI startup Roborus is using AI and machine learning technology to facial recognition to enhance customer experiences at retail stores, restaurants, coffee shops, and hotels.  Roborus creates robots and kiosks that uses AI and facial recognition to store data and identify customers.  In addition, they use machine learning to better understand their customer and offer personalized recommendations.  Their two main products are Tune and Poca.  Tune is a facial recognition system and Poca is a smart ordering system robot that can recognize customers and take their orders.  The interesting aspect of Poca is that they can detect customers emotion and react to them.  Furthermore, these services are designed to increase customer loyalty.

Roborus has already formed a partnership with 7-Eleven and is looking to partner up with other retail stores.  Furthermore, they are looking to partner with restaurants and coffee shops because Roborus can provide quicker service with higher customer satisfaction.

9.  ENERZAi

ENERZAi, a Korean startup that provides AI-based solutions for the energy sector.  They focus on the inefficiency problem during drilling.  The cost of drilling costs hundreds of millions of dollars.  In addition, there are also fatalities that need to be taken into account.  Therefore ENERZAi is developing an autonomous drilling system for better efficiency and safety.  Their aim for 2019 is to become a global leading energy company based on AI technology.  ENERZAi is currently discussing collaboration with government-funded research institutes and drilling players and is planning to promote field tests.

10.  Kono.ai

KonoKono.ai makes scheduling meetings a lot easier for corporations with their AI-based scheduling bot Kono.  Kono syncs with calendar apps like Google Calendar to help schedule meetings, conference calls, or events.  It can also organize meetings for people in different time zones.   They have raised over $8 million from 500 Startups and MashUp Angels.  Kono is free to use and there is a paid subscription option that offers additional customized features.  Currently, Kono is available in English and Korean but will add more languages in 2019.

11.  Classting

classtingClassting is a Korean AI Startup that focuses on education technology.  Their AI deep learning technology enables personalized services that are specifically made for the learner.  The Classting app is an education social community platform that helps with communication between students, parents, and teachers.  The app now has over 4 million users in over 15,000 schools and institutions worldwide.  Furthermore, the app has raised over $5 million and is looking to expand into other Asian markets.

12.  42Maru

42 Maru Kroean AI startupKorean AI Startup 42 Maru is the creators of a QA (Question Answering) system based on AI (Deep Learning) that understands a question and delivers a single correct answer from a large unstructured data-set in less than a second.  42Maru can find an answer in real-time using MRC (Machine Reading Comprehension) and as a public reference, they have co-ranked #1 in Standford University’s MRC competition (SquAD 2.0) with the Google AI team (as of Nov. 2018).  Their patented QA system which is the only deep-learning-based commercial version in Korea is already used in over 50% of the smart speakers in Korea.  Furthermore, they are working with major Korean companies like LG U+, Daewoo Shipbuilding, KIA Motors, and KT just to name a few.

42Maru is the winner of the AWS AI startup Challenge Award.  Their focus moving forward will be to improve their deep learning system and partner with companies dealing with smart speakers, chatbots, connected cars, and data warehouses.

13.  ADRIEL

Koeran AI Startup ADRIELKorean AI startup ADRIEL is a digital advertising platform that uses AI technology to run ads on social media platforms.  Users will need to input certain information about their business and upload the image they would like to use for their ad.  Then ADRIEL will use AI technology to create an online ad to reach more relevant customers for their budget.  It will monitor and optimize the ads for maximum performance.  In addition, users will have an online dashboard to monitor the results of the ad.  ADRIEL is great for startups because it saves money on marketing cost and saves time on creating marketing campaigns.

Adriel has already opened up offices in the U.S. (Silicon Valley) and London. Their focus for 2019 will be to enter the Southeast Asian market.

14.  Riiid

riiidRiiid is a Korean AI startup that focuses on AI tutor solutions.  They consider themselves a creative education technology company.  Furthermore, it launched Santa TOEIC which was an AI Tutor that prepped students.  Santa TOEIC was selected as the best selling app in the education category on Google Play and the App Store. They also incorporate a cryptocurrency rewards program for the users of Santa TOEIC.  Coins are rewarded to learners as they level up.  They can level up through practice tests, watching lectures, and increasing their test scores.  Therefore, their AI engine is able to become more intuitive as it gathers more data.

15.  3SECONDZ

Korean AI startup 3SECONDZKorean startup 3SECONDZ is the world’s first AI-based motorsports coach.  3SECONDZ is a fully automated racing data analysis service.  Drivers will be able to review their driving to find out their strengths and weaknesses.  Users will need to upload their driving log to get feedback from the AI-based driving coach.  In addition, users will be able to review their driving by real-time animation.  3SECONDZ supports most logging systems, web browsers, and smartphones.

HONORABLE MENTION

Lablup

Korean AI Startup LablupKorean AI startup Lablup is the creators of an open-source platform called Backend.AI that offers cloud and server management to machine learning environments that require a large number of system resources.  Furthermore, the platform allows for easy distribution of program code for design and training of deep learning models in server and cloud environments. It is based on Docker technology, which efficiently provides multiple independent operating environments on a physical server.  In addition, Backend.AI is a platform for AI development, through a Blockchain token.

StradVision

stradvisionStradVision is a Korean AI startup that uses deep learning camera image detection technology.  For 2019 StradVision will focus on developing advanced camera detection technology for self-driving automobiles.  In addition, StradVision developed a software solution that uses deep learning to recognize people and even road signs.  It is excellent at recognizing distant objects but overlapping objects.  They are able to distinguish between, people, cars, bicycles, and objects.  Therefore, the camera can even read movement patterns and predict safety measures in advance.