More frequently than not, Korean technology and innovation is the object of overseas interest and wonder. Futuristic, previously unimagined technology stemming from Korea is now moving closer towards an entry into the global market, which the startups in attendance of the summit represent in a multitude of sectors and business models.
A highly anticipated, government backed event
As Korean startups grow to achieve international attention, the ecosystem of the New York IT industry, jokingly referred to as “Silicon Alley”, has extended a warm welcome to the newcomers. So, starting from Tuesday the 20th of September until the next day, 20 Korean startups bridged the divide between the IT industries, and attended the Korea-US Startup Summit, also known as “Korea-US SMEs go TOGETHER” for an introduction.
The event was hosted by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups, under Minister Young Lee, and supervised by the Korea Institute of Startup and Entrepreneurship Development (KISED) under Director Yongmoon Kim. Goal of these government agencies is the development of beneficial international relations between startups from Korea as they seek global acclaim, and to expedite the ventures of outside companies as they operate in Korea.
As anticipated by Korea Venture Investment, the event proved an excellent opportunity for networking between South Korean startups and global companies, and has helped the new businesses enter the global market. Public relations were encouraged by showcases, and space for meetings, exchanges, and a variety of seminars, where promising connections could be made were provided.
The startups were each hosted by a larger company and set up for exhibitions in pavilions.
The hosts, Google, Naver Cloud, the Hyundai Motor Group and K-Startup Center presented products and business models in any place on the spectrum from recent inception to full operation with cash flow.
The attendees of the Korea-US Startup Summit
Hosted by Google
Established in 2015, this mobile game startup wasted no time in raising awareness for itself, landing top 3 at the ‘Google Indie Game Festival’. It is best known for speedy development and quirky, casual hybrid game concepts, such as Hero Factory. The company hopes to expand the scope of their service, and market to many different types of gamers, using new channels in the future.
After observing the K-Pop market and the fandoms belonging to it, the startup released a “K-Pop Radar”, which detects size, growth and various trends in relevant data and presents it comprehensively. These results are presented in a dashboard, alongside a weekly chart. Following this extensive research, Space Oddity launched Blip, the go-to app for stans for curated content on their favorite artists, where the community can socialize and come together in a single space rather than spread over several social media platforms.
This mobile game startup, started in 2017, is known for its casual solitaire games with a twist. Among their most popular titles are Age of Solitaire, Solitaire Cooking Tower, Solitaire Farm Village and Solitaire Cat Island.
Teuida is a language app that aims to overcome language barriers such as physical distance, high price points for tutoring and the like by integrating speaking practice and pronunciation exercises into its interactive service. While the user learns, he is immersed in authentic Korean culture, and equipped to speak the language following the norms of a native speaker.
Hosted by Naver Cloud
Established in 2018, Argosdyne offers operation system platforms for autonomous vehicles, and automatic management solutions for them. The bulk of their manpower collaborates on development, research, and production for ideal solutions for each client.
ARIA Edge is a pioneer in the field of augmented reality. Their products, that blur the line between the virtual world and what the naked eye can see, can facilitate communication and management.
This global IT and engineering company helps facility diagnosis using their advanced evaluation technology. The facilities are monitored using ICT technology, which analyses data in real time, and compares it to noise and vibration data collected over 36 years.
Knowing the importance of ESGs to modern companies who wish to stay ahead, I-ESG creates solutions that can make this management process easier using artificial intelligence and big data.
MORAI, established in 2018, provides clients with the ability to test their autonomous vehicles in an affordable simulation. It can run any number of tests, and several simultaneously.
Hosted by K-Startup Center
The startup unveiled its new mental health service “Lighthouse” during the summit. It makes mental healthcare more easily accessible and integrates positive healthcare practices into the routine of the user.
This eco-conscious company makes biodegradable plastic resin as well as other products.
This AI and Fintech service helps immigrants moving to the United States through case tracking, mock interviews, legal consultations and the like.
A research networking tool for curated, bookmarked research. Users can connect with each other, compile links to make research easier for other users, or create lists of research topics to work through alone or with the help of a partner.
VPIX Medical has a biopsy platform for cancer surgery in real-time, digitally.
Hosted by Hyundai Motors
60Hertz makes virtual software to help the management of distributed energy systems. Their “Solar and Wind Map” indicates energy powerplants in the whole of Korea, alongside estimates of their energy output. The new “Renewable Energy Map” can help those interested in partaking in the project to get an overview.
They use their own technology to detect anomalies, optimize control and predict analysis in the energy, semiconductor, battery, and production industries. Their new MLOps product ‘Runway’ facilitates the introduction of AI into industry sites.
Mobiltech is an AI-based startup, that has succeeded in developing a 3D scanner that can replicate spatial information to form a highly detailed copy. This is used to navigate self-driving vehicles.
This new company uses energy epicycle technology to recycle EV batteries after they have been used, sourcing new energy.
The creators of “AIWORKS”, a platform that collects and processes data from crowd sourcing using AI. Their service leans on 3D data processing and evolved computer vision.
Mycel: A standout among the startups
As the fashion industry continues its search for an eco-friendly leather alternative that is both functional as well as attractive, Mycel came forward with an alternative so outstanding that the startup secured the “Global Media Award” for its innovation and sustainability at the Korea-US Startup Summit. The jury remarked on the qualities that the Mycelium leather innovator displayed during their successful developmental stages, such as the marketability of the product, and the overwhelmingly positive response of the audience.
So how is the miracle solution made?
Mycel uses mushrooms and fungal matter to make both leather for industrial use, as well as a protein-rich meat alternative using mycelium, which is harvested during a bio process. The result is a material that closely imitates animal leather, due to the long, thick fungal fibers found in the mycelium, that form a pleasant texture for consumption as well as durability.
The distinguishing advantage that mycelium-based leather has over animal leather is the reduced cost of carbon emissions and water waste comparatively, not to mention the costs that arise from raising cattle for years in great open spaces.
What makes this solution stand out among vegan leathers as well is the flexibility of the material, and the ability of the fibers to intertwine among themselves to form the materials, rather than needing a multitude of added chemicals during the pulverized state.Mycel is now looking to expand globally, and looking forward to exciting new opportunities like collaborations with global fashion brands!
The Summit in retrospect
Retrospectively, the Korea-US Startup Summit remains memorable for introducing a number of fascinating new innovators to a global audience, that is no doubt delighted by the amount of creativity and diligence displayed at this event.
The emphasis that the South Korean government places on the development of the six thousand startups that KISED supports, with both funds as well as networking possibilities, is unique. And as the Korean tech industry continues to flourish, prospective leaders of the global technological future may soon find themselves deservedly placed among their equals, when Korean companies meet the world.