Top 20 Korean AI Startups to watch for – Best of 2020

Startups in Korea are looking to incorporate AI technology into their existing products 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 has 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 in 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. We have excluded Medical AI startups as we have another page for that.

The rankings were comprised by the Seoulz staff and are based on 4 factors:

  • Funding
  • Market Opportunity
  • The innovation of service or product
  • Growth Potential/Scalability

Here are the top 20 AI startups in Korea to keep an eye on for 2020

1. StradVision

stradvisionStradVision is a Korean AI startup that uses deep learning camera image detection technology. For 2020 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.

SVNet Software

StradVision’s SVNet Software will be used in 5 production vehicle projects in China and Germany. SVNet is StradVision’s a deep-learning camera software. StradVision currently provides level 2 technology for ADAS (Advanced driver-assistance systems.

StradVision’s SVNet Software allows vehicles to execute ADAS and self-driving functions, including:

  • Pedestrian Collision Warning
  • Pedestrian and Cyclist Warning
  • Forward Collision Warning
  • Traffic Sign Recognition
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Intelligent Speed Assistance
  • Blind Spot Detection

Their software also allows for internal detection to ensure safe driving. These functions include:

  • Drowsiness Detection
  • Age & Gender Detection
  • Gaze Detection

The algorithm allows both internal and external technology to work at the same time. The aim is to have more than 6 million automobiles on the road using SVNet by 2021.

StradVision Raises $27 Million for their Series B Round

StadVision raised $27 million in its series B funding round led by Posco Capital. Therefore, its total funding stands at $40 million to date. They are currently doing mass production projects in China and Europe. In addition, they opened a new office in Germany in February, which will allow the startup to directly assist its German automotive partners with mass production projects. They have also partnered with global OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers. Therefore StradVision will have millions of cars on the streets using its software for autonomous vehicles and ADAS systems within the next 2 years.

“StradVision’s software solutions for Autonomous Vehicles and ADAS systems are proving successful and attractive to leading automakers and suppliers, as our latest round of funding strongly confirms. StradVision will use this funding to take our groundbreaking products to the next level as we lead the advancement of camera technology in Autonomous Vehicles,” said the CEO of StradVision Junhwan Kim.


Korean AI Startup SUALABKorean AI startup SUALAB is an AI-based provider of deep learning machine vision solutions. They research various machine vision systems that can replace humans in industrial fields through deep learning, machine vision, and supercomputing technologies. Their aim is to increase the accuracy and speed of inspection for manufacturing industries. Their main product is called SuaKIT which is a software that tests product detects using deep learning technology.

SUALAB has raised over $27 million in funding from various Korean VC firms. In addition, some of their clients include Samsung and LG. Their focus for 2020 will be on R&D and market expansion so other global industries can access deep learning technology.

Cognex Acquires SUALAB

NASDAQ listed company Cognex Corporation acquired SUALAB in October of 2019. Cognex focuses on machine vision for factory automation and industrial barcode reading. The SUALAB engineering team and IP will be added to Cognex and help their coverage into the Asian market. Therefore, they will help lead a team of specialized engineers in the use of deep learning for industrial machine vision applications.

“Our goal at Sualab has been clear since our founding. To be the global leader in deep learning-based vision inspection. By joining Cognex, we have reached that goal, and together, we plan to accelerate our efforts to help more customers solve even the most complex vision applications faster, easier, and more cost-effectively,” said the CEO of Sualab, Song Kiyoung.

3. 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. Therefore, they target industries like manufacturing, customer service, advertising, and marketing. The startup has raised over $23 million in total funding to date from KDB Bank, Korea Investment and Securities, and Kakao Ventures. For 2020 they will keep concentrating on their core technologies to become a top-level global company while also expanding their businesses to different verticals.

Partnership with INNOCEAN Worldwide

Skelter Labs partnered with one of the biggest marketing agencies in Korea INNOCEAN worldwide. It was the first case of a joint project between an advertising company and an AI company in Korea. Therefore, they will work together on a data Ad-tech training program, developing smart wearable devices, implementing customized vehicle test systems, and building an Ad campaign automation platform. Furthermore, they will work together to expand the functionality of Smart Sunglasses by utilizing the core AI technology of Skelter Labs.

“AI is a life-changing opportunity for Skelter Labs. I think our current projects will be worth millions of dollars in the future. However, the numbers are now meaningless. Our main priority is developing core AI technology. Money is secondary,” said the CEO of Skelter Labs, Ted Cho.

4. 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 2020 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. Their revenue hit $6 million by the end of 2019.  Some of Flitto’s clients include Microsoft, Baidu, and Tencent jus to name a few.

$23 Million raised through their IPO

Flitto announced they raised a total of $23 million from their IPO. The investment came mainly from institutional investors and now their startup has an estimated market cap of close to $200 million. The money will go into expanding their sales in the United States and European markets. Furthermore, they are planning to build a linguistic database by focusing on gathering linguistic data (text, voice, video, and image), as well as focus on linguistic AI.

“Flitto’s core business is selling linguistic data to AI companies. The focus is on gathering linguistic data such as voice, text, image, and video effectively from the users through Flitto’s web and app platform,” said the CEO of Flitto, Simon Lee.

5. MakinaRocks

MakinaRocksMakinaRocks is a startup that uses AI technology to revolutionize the manufacturing industry. By applying AI to the high-tech manufacturing sector they will make manufacturing more productive by using the power of big data and AI. They want to focus on manufacturing companies in the semiconductor space, as well as, in the automobile, steel, and specialty chemicals sectors. The startup collects and analyzes machine data from sensors. Therefore this allows manufacturers to detect errors early to prevent defects and improve production efficiency. MakinaRocks has raised $10 million for its Series A round from KDB Bank, Hyundai Motors, Daesung Private Equity, HB Investment, Shinhan Financial Investment, Applied Ventures, and LG Technology Ventures. This takes its total funding to a little over $12.1 million.

“In the semiconductor industry, complexity of high-tech processes is enormously increasing with the rising number of new technical methods by around 50 to 100 each year,” said the Co-founder of MakinaRocks, Lee Jae-Hyuk.


NearthlabKorean startup Nearthlab is the creators of an autonomous drone solution that collects data required at industrial sites in a faster and more accurate way. They focus on drone data and use drones to provide meaning data for wind turbine inspection. Using Nearthlab’s solution, one wind turbine can be fully inspected in about 15 minutes. Therefore their autonomous drones can reduce inspection time, increase safety, and get detailed measurements/data. In addition, they offer a cloud-based data analysis portal as part of their autonomous drone solution. Furthermore, all the pictures taken by the drone is uploaded to a server which can be managed online.

NearthLab, raised $6 million for their Series B round from SBI Investment, Mirae Asset Capital, Company K-Partners, Nau B Capital, Future Play, Shinhan Capital, and E & Ventures. In total, they have raised a little over $9 million to date.


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 costs and saves time on creating marketing campaigns.

How do these AI-based digital ads work?

ADRIEL gets the data from a client’s website. These include product images and text information. Then it creates and runs ads across multiple platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Amazon, LinkedIn, and Google in around 5 minutes. In addition, ARIEL is able to collect and analyze data and guide advertisers in the best way to launch a digital ad campaign. Furthermore, they have already worked with clients from Korea, Singapore, the UK, and the United States. Currently, they provide services in English, Korean, Japanese, and French. ADRIEL has over 20,000 business accounts in over 20 countries, running over 7,000 advertisements on global online platforms.

Raised over $6.5 million in funding

ADRIEL has raised over 6.5 million in funding over 2 rounds. They have gotten investments from Naver’s D2 Startup Factory and also joined their accelerator program. As well as, investment from Woowa Brothers Corp., a startup that operates Korea’s most popular food delivery app, Baedal Minjok. Furthermore, Adriel has already opened up offices in the U.S. (Silicon Valley) and London. Their focus for 2020 will be to continue their growth in the Southeast Asian market.

“Launching ad campaigns becomes incredibly easy and fast with Adriel, and most of all, there is no setup cost. We are currently mapping out a blueprint to expand Adriel as a “total solution” platform that provides not only marketing campaigns but other services such as website management and customer relations,” said the CEO of Adriel, Sophie Eom.

8. CrowdWorks

CrowdworksKorean AI startup CrowdWorks is a crowdsourcing marketplace where freelance workers review the data and add annotations for AI developers. By doing so, freelancers get paid for each completed task. Therefore groups of individuals can divide the work on an open platform to achieve a cumulative result. CrowdWorks is the first and largest AI crowdsourcing platform and some of their big-name clients include Samsung and Naver. They can provide training data sets with near-perfect accuracy through its unique management know-how to help its clients reduce time and money related to AI development.

“We have a pool of some 500 so-called “supervisors”, chosen from a pool of workers with high credibility, who examine each labeled data at the final stage of the workflow. We manage the entire process, which is what sets us apart from other similar companies overseas,” said the CEO of CrowdWorks Park Mi-nu.

Their focus for 2020 will be to transition into labeling video data to compete in the imagery and voice data labeling space.

9. FuriosaAI

FuriosaKorean AI startup FurisoaAI builds high-performance AI inference coprocessors that can be integrated into computing platforms. Therefore, this includes data centers, servers, desktops, automobiles, and robots. These semiconductor chips improve the performance of AI in big data and autonomous driving. They were able to get $7 million in investments from Naver D2 Startup Factory and DSC Investment. The founders of FurisoaAI are Kim Han-joon and Baek Jun-ho who were both researchers at Samsung Electronics who designed semiconductors. Now FurisoAI is Korea’s only fabless semiconductor startup that makes neural processing units (NPUs).

“AI chips are actually the market that is worth a shot for startups. The central processing unit (CPU) market led by Intel may be impossible to break into, but data center and self-driving chips are a whole new domain. We’re at the same starting point as Nvidia and Google,” said the Co-Founder of FurisoaAI, Baek Jun-ho.

Their focus moving forward will be to cooperate with domestic and overseas universities, companies, and research institutes as well as the Korean government.

10. NOTA

Korean AI startup NOTAKorean AI startup NOTA specializes in AI and machine learning to create a soft keyboard technology to reduce typos. In addition, they have developed a model compression technology that can be applied for mobile, IoT, drone, and robotics. The issue with AI is its high server cost and latency issues. NOTA’s AI solution solves these issues with its core model compression technology. Therefore they work well for real-time object detection as well as detecting human emotions in real-time.

NOTA is supported by KAIST which is the top technical institute in Korea. Their focus for 2020 will be to research new solutions such as image segmentation and object recognition. Nota raised $6.7 million for their Series A round from Stonebridge ventures, LB Investment, LG CNS, and Samsung SDS.

11. Moneybrain

Moneybrain is a Korean AI startup that researches and develops conversational AI technology. Therefore, 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.

Voice synthesis technology converts text to voice. It is able to learn human voices to create a believable AI chatbot that offers the right pronunciation and intonation. MoneyBrain is able to synthesize the voice in real-time. In addition, MoneyBrain has been able to raise $2 million in funding and won the first place prize at the largest startup competition in Korea called K-Global Startup.

“There is only a very limited number of companies both locally and globally with high-quality deep learning-based voice synthesis technology. We will achieve excellent performances in diversified business domains with our competitive technology, which is at par with those of global companies,” said CEO of MoneyBrain, Eric Jang.

Furthermore, they were able to raise an additional $2 million from IDG Capital Korea Partners (IDG). IDG is considered the largest Venture Capital Firm in China. To date, they have raised over $8 million in investments.

12. SelectStar

SelectStarKorean AI Startup SelectStar is the developer of a mobile-based AI Data Crowdsourcing Platform to solve the issues related to AI data production. It allows users to sign up as crowd workers on the platform for the mobile app Cash Mission to do data work and get rewards. This way, AI companies can acquire data collection pools and large sets of data quickly and in an accurate manner through this form of outsourcing. The data platform allows for not only text but also images and voice data. Currently, they have close to 100 clients on their data platform. To date Select star has raised $3.4 million from Kolon Investment, Company K Partners, and Kakao Ventures.

13. 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. In addition, they attended the IFA 2019 in Berlin, Germany in September. There they introduced the “Deep Semantic QA Platform/”  The platform accurately understands the intention of a user’s question and gives a correct answer based on their data. Furthermore, they were also selected as an Intel AI Builder by Intel have been active in supporting leading AI companies to promote AI innovation. In addition, Intel will help 42Maru with marketing, technology support, and investment. So far, they have raised $1.7 million in seed funding from KDB Bank.

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.

“42Maru is preparing for expansion into European markets, bringing its technology to life for new and exciting customer experiences,” said the CEO of 42 Maru, D.K. Donghwan Kim.

14. 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 $1 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 focusing on business development. Their service is available in English and Korean but will add more languages in 2020.

“Scheduling business meetings is hard but highly important for business performance. Kono manages schedules efficiently and naturally, so users can be more organized and channel more of their time and energy in making their business successful,” said the CEO of Konolabs, YJ Min

15. RideFlux

RidefluxThe top car-sharing operator in South Korea, Socar invested in RideFlux for their autonomous driving technology. South Korea will have self-driving cars on its streets thanks to RideFlux who are leading the way in South Korea in autonomous driving. RideFlux has a strong team of highly talented R&D engineers along with South Korea’s strong telecommunications infrastructure, and 5G networks. They already have a working self-driving car shuttling customers back and forth from Jeju airport. The five-kilometer route includes a U-turn, 11 pedestrian crossing, and bustling airport traffic. It is an optimal location to continue to develop and improve their AI systems.


Korean Startup AIZEN

Korean 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. Therefore, 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 has 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 2020 will be to continue to form global partnerships.

“We have developed an automatic credit cycle control model using AI. Based on that we are building autonomous banking,” said the CEO of AIZEN, Jung Seok Kang.

17. 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 use 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 customer’s emotions 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. They also signed an MOU with I-ON Communications, a leading sports data software provider for amateur and youth sports in Korea. They will look to work on IT projects related to the sports tech sector in the future. Furthermore, they are looking to partner with restaurants and coffee shops because Roborus can provide quicker service with higher customer satisfaction.

18. Who’s Good

Who's GoodKorean startup Who’s Good is Asia’s first AI-driven ESG (environmental, social, and governance) insight, provider. Using AI technology and public data, Who’s Good provides objectives and up-to-date corporate ESG insights on Asian companies. Currently, ESG analysis products are costly and the results are too subjective. Therefore Who’s Good uses AI and big data to deliver fact-oriented, real-time corporate ESG analysis. Their AI offers real-time/in-depth corporate ESG analysis without compromising its quality. Furthermore, they leverage 350 public big data sources and 93 news data sources in Korea to uncover insights.

19. GDFLab

GDFLabKorean AI startup GDFLab is an AI-based video quality enhancement company that increases the resolution and quality up to 4x the size and to 4K UHD. In addition, they use AI to develop IT solutions for various purposes such as image and video upscaling, recognition, and compression technologies. Their app, pikaVue is an AI deep technology-based image and video Upscaler. It allows users to Upscale images up to 4x and restore images to high resolution. AI technology is used to eliminate noise and restore details that were not clearly visible in the original image. Furthermore, users can convert their low-definition videos to FHD (1080P).

“Our AI-based real-time video quality enhancement quality would allow video streaming much smoother and faster. Our technology can save a lot network time and costs and can be used for surveillance cameras or video streaming services such as Netflix,” said the CEO of GDFLab, Kang Kyoung-ik.

20. XAI Land

XailandXAI Land is an innovative real estate startup in Korea utilizing AI technology to make real estate valuations more transparent on a global scale. They create products that help real estate professionals make better decisions and successfully complete their projects. The XAI land team consists of data scientists, software developers, and real estate professionals. Their platform offers real estate professionals the opportunity to discover the current and predicted future market value of any property. In addition, their reports contain data and analysis that allows users to understand the property in greater detail. Therefore they will be able to make better and faster decisions by tapping into their comprehensive database of real estate data/analytics and API.



FastPongFastPong is the creator of an interactive table tennis trading device that uses AI technology for real-time feedback. It is a smart table tennis training board that uses a lighting system that divides the board into eight squares. Each square is represented with a grid as a target. When a target lights up, it instructs the user on where to send the ball on the other end of the table. This innovative technology will be able to each new generation of students the foundations of table tennis in their language. In addition, players will be able to track their performance on their mobile app so they can analyze their performance.

Their AI technology collects data on the player and figures out their strengths and weaknesses. Then they are able to recommend the ideal training program. Furthermore, players and coaches will be able to create their own customized training programs or chose from the FastPong library. Don’t be shocked to see FastPong at every table tennis training center in the future.


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 2020 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.

“We plan to interpret oilfield data based on machine learning algorithms to suggest optimum parameters which could eventually minimize inefficiency. These parameters will then be applied to the autonomous drilling system, which is expected to reduce drilling costs and casualty accidents. Our goal is to become a global leading energy company based on AI technology,” said the CEO of ENERZAi, Chang Han-him.


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 logs 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.


Korean AI startup HumeloKorean AI software startup Humelo researches and develops technologies that include emotions in speech and text-to-speech (TTS) technology. Their aim is to create a natural-sounding voice similar to a human. They are looking to replace the current unnatural voice ignition technology that is currently in IoT devices. They have partnered with SM Entertainment, one of the biggest K-pop entertainment companies in Korea to incorporate Humelo’s AI composition/writing technology to innovate the entertainment industry through speech synthesis and creative AI. Furthermore, their TTP API’s real-time multilingual TTS technology can be used for AI speakers, navigation, IoT devices, smart cars, and more.


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. Remarkably, the Backend.AI platform provides distinctive GPU resources scaling and sharing by virtualizing GPUs for containers; therefore increases utilization of GPU clusters with multi-tenant fractional GPU scaling. In addition, the platform also allows for easy distribution of program code for the design and training of deep learning models in server and cloud environments.