3i Inc., an industry-leading immersive experience company specializing in metaverse technology, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, and a member of Born2global Centre, completed an investment of nearly $24M (₩28B Won). The round included $20M from new financial and strategic investors and $4M from existing investors.

 

SV Investment led the round, with other participants including Korean Development Bank, LB Investment, DS Asset, YG Investment, Intops Investment, Enlight Ventures, NBH Capital, and Korea Asset Investment Securities.

 

Founded in 2017, 3i has 34 technology patents and includes two brands: Pivo and Beamo. Pivo is a platform business sitting at the intersection of hardware, software, and content focused on empowering everyday creators around the world with its Pivo Pod, a portable AI-powered smart pod, and suite of mobile apps that extend the capabilities of any smartphone and simplify rich content creation.

 

Beamo is an enterprise-grade digital twin solution for mission-critical businesses and sites. Beamo creates a dynamic digital twin that allows enterprises to conduct remote inspections, maintain equipment remotely, collaborate with remote teams and provide the most immersive navigation of mission-critical assets.

 

"3i is a company which is growing dramatically in B2B digital twin solutions using AI and AR/VR technologies and B2C video content creation platform", said Joo-wan Jeong, Director at SV Investment. He added, "I made this investment because I believe 3i will be able to grow into the only global player that possesses both technology and content in the integrated metaverse".

 

3i plans to use the funds raised to develop new products and expand its metaverse platform business. Additionally, 3i plans to invest significantly in scaling out the company with multiple open roles in recruiting, marketing, customer success, design and engineering, as well as key investments in the 3i brand experience in the market over the next year.

 

Ken Kim, CEO of 3i said, "The metaverse is the next-generation platform, where soon, all media flows are expected to move. Our products and solutions help enterprises and content creators leap onto the metaverse much more easily, seamlessly, and quickly than ever before, changing the way the physical world interacts with the digital world".






Tomocube (B2G `18), which commercializes 3D holographic microscopy technology, announced that it has attracted 21.2 billion won worth of investment.

 

A total of eight investment institutions, including Korea Investment Private Equity, SKS Private Equity, Daily Partners, Ryukyung PSG Asset Management, Leading Ace Capital, Timefolio Asset Management, IBK Securities, and IBK Capital, participated in the investment. Two existing investment institutions, Daily Partners and Ryukyung PSG Asset Management, made follow-up investments.

 

Earlier, Tomocube secured a total of 44.2 billion won in investment funds, including 3 billion won from Hanmi Science and Softbank Ventures in March 2016, 5 billion won from Softbank Ventures, Intervest, and Company K Partners in April 2018, and 15 billion won from Intervest, Company K Partners and Daily Partners in August 2019.

 

 

Tomocube plans to use this investment as an R&D for clinical and new product development of in vitro diagnostic equipment for medical use which is currently under development.

 

Tomocube is a bio venture company that has proposed a new paradigm in life science microscopy, which German and Japanese technologies have dominated. It has 3D holography microscopy technology and artificial intelligence (AI) to observe cells in real-time without preprocessing. It is characterized by accurately measuring cells immediately within seconds of the field without a preprocessing process that in which used to previously take 2-3 days.

 

CEO Hong Ki-hyun said, "We will conduct clinical trials at home and abroad for blood analysts currently under development and develop equipment that can classify and sympathize with bacteria for diagnosing infectious diseases including sepsis within two hours."



 

Channel Corp., which operates an all-in-one biz messenger "Channel Talk," has completed a series C investment round worth about 28 billion won.

 

Leading domestic and foreign VCs and PEs, including lead investors Atinum Investment and KB Investment, Pavilion Capital, IMM Investment, Bon Angels, Guardian Fund, and Laguna Investment, participated. Temasek, the parent company of Pavilion Capital, is the world's largest state-owned investor with a 100% stake in the Singapore government and is known to have a portfolio of Airbnb, Alibaba, and Tencent. As a result, Channel Corporation's cumulative investment reached about 40 billion won.

 

While demand for non-face-to-face chatbot counseling and marketing platforms to expand the online commerce market has increased since the COVID-19 pandemic, Channel Talk has attracted attention as Korea's leading B2B SaaS startup.

 

Channel Talk plans to further enhance the combination of chatting and CRM through this investment attraction and establish itself as a popular tool that any SMB company or online operator can easily use.

 

It is also stepping up efforts to target overseas markets. Channel Talk is currently operating in 22 countries worldwide and collecting 15% of its total sales in the global market. Japanese sales are on a net march, up about seven times from a year earlier than last year. On top of that, as it has succeeded in entering Shopify, a Canadian e-commerce dinosaur company, it aims to expand its experience and awareness of using Channel Talk to overseas operators to be recognized for its competitiveness as a service that works in the global market.

 

Channel Talk's fast-growing performance in the first half of this year since the official launch of the service in 2017 showed a growth rate of more than ten times in subscribers in just three years compared to 2018. Channel Talk currently uses Channel Talk services by more than 58,000 domestic and foreign companies.

 

80% of active customers using Channel Talk are online operators, startups, and small and medium-sized businesses (SMB), helping to manage customer relations and improve sales through Channel Talk's all-in-one biz messenger solution that combines chatbot chat services, marketing tools, and team messengers. When introducing Channel Talk, the residual rate of maintaining service use without termination reaches 98.1%, helping to drive growth.

 

Channel Talk is solidifying its position as an essential business platform as online and mobile-based chat counseling is accelerating along with the non-face-to-face post-corona era, said Choi Si-won, CEO of Channel Corporation. "In the future, it will strengthen its competitiveness and become a basic tool used by many companies."

 

 

Kitten Planet was established in April 2017 as a spin-off from Samsung Electronics. Brush Monster, its mobile application platform for toothbrushing education using augmented reality (AR) and game elements, is operated via a smart toothbrush and membership program that is linked to the app and is currently used in Korea and in over 200,000 households abroad for children's proper brushing habits and dental hygiene care.

 

In this round of investments worth about $4.3M (5B KRW), Inlight Ventures, an existing investment company, was newly joined by Green Cross Medical Science (GS MS), a specialist in diagnostic reagents and medical devices. With this investment, Kitten Planet and Brush Monster will aim to expand domestic and overseas reach and provide digital dental care services for all ages.

 

Kitten Planet CEO Choi Jong-ho said, “Kitten Planet is a digital dental care platform company that makes digital products focused on improving oral health and connecting home and dentistry. We plan on accelerating the innovation of treatment-oriented dental care.

 

According to the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service's statistics on frequent diseases and medical practices, gingivitis, and periodontal diseases ranked number one for two consecutive years, 2019 and 2020, with the number of affected patients at 16,372,879. The number of patients with dental caries was 6.19 million, ranking fourth after venous bronchitis and high blood pressure, and 4 out of 10 children under the age of 9 visited the dentist due to tooth decay. 

 

 

As Edtech startups continue to rake in investment with the newfound demand for remote learning, Ringle, the South Korea-based provider of one-on-one English tutoring lessons and a member of Born2Global Centre, has raised $18 million (KRW 20Bn) Series A funding led by Must Asset Management. The company started the round with $9M funding in late March and closed the round early June with a total amount of $18M, the second largest Series A funding amount in the history of English education startups. The company is valued at $90 million (KRW 100 billion).

 

Participating investors also included One-asset management, Xoloninvest, and MoCA Ventures. Over 90 percent of the funding came from investors that participated in previous rounds.

 

Founded in 2015 by two Stanford MBA graduates, Ringle provides one-on-one video English lessons with native-speaking tutors from prestigious universities in English speaking countries. What sets Ringle apart from the other online tutoring services are the thought-provoking learning materials on a wide variety of topics and the highly educated tutors all of whom are well-trained individuals to teach sophisticated business and academic English. Using AI-based analytics, the service also provides a comprehensive data-based feedback report on students' speech pace, vocabulary, and expressions range.

 

Ringle's revenue has grown three times every year since its founding and currently the company has over 700 manually vetted tutors and 100,000 users, 30% of whom are based outside of Korea. Lessons bookings increased by 390% in comparison with the previous year.

 

Ringle will utilize series A to develop original educational content and grow teams at its headquarters in Seoul, Korea and San Mateo, CA. The company is keen to diversify revenue sources by providing a subscription option to access premium content. Ringle will push for client expansion both globally and to different age groups. It will drive growth in the U.S. and other countries with large student bases such as the U.K., Japan, Australia, and Singapore. With its junior program launching in the second half of the year, the company will also seek growth in the younger student base, aged 10 and above.

 

A good portion of the funding will be invested in enhancing the service's tech platform. In collaboration with KAIST (Korea Advanced institute of Science & Technology)'s HCI (human computer interaction) research team, Ringle is developing a language diagnostics system that measures and tracks student's Complexity, Accuracy, and Fluency in English speaking. The platform will also add more review features to help students hit learning goals.

 

Co-founders Seunghoon Lee and Sungpah Lee started Ringle to solve a problem they faced as non-native English speakers studying in the U.S. English was an obstacle they had to overcome to exchange knowledge and grow further.

 

"I wanted to create a service that changes people's lives. Our primary goal is to break down language barriers, but ultimately what we're doing is connecting top talents from around the world, providing a platform for mutual learning and growth," said Sungpah Lee.

 

Note the "mutual learning" and that "top taIents" here refer to both language learners and tutors. Ringle tutors already cite the opportunity to converse with Ringle students, who are often high-achieving professionals and academics able to share knowledge and career experience, as a major appeal of working for the platform. Ringle students include those from global companies like Google, Amazon, BCG, McKinsey, Samsung Electronics, etc.

 

Ringle will utilize Series A proceeds to develop original educational content and grow teams at its headquarters in Seoul, Korea and San Mateo, CA. The company is keen to diversify revenue sources by providing a subscription option to access premium content. Ringle will push for client expansion both globally and to different age groups. It will drive growth in the U.S. and other countries with large student bases such as the U.K., Japan, Australia, and Singapore. With its junior program launching in the second half of the year, the company will also seek growth in the younger student base, aged 10 and above.

 

"We believe Ringle is well-positioned for tremendous growth. Ringle will provide not only the best English education with premium content and AI-based learning platform but grow into a global Edtech company that connects top talents from around the world," said a representative from Must Asset Management.

 

"Ringle achieved rapid growth so far, boldly executing on its mission to innovate education. Ringle team made learning easier and effective, achieving high customer satisfaction and a strong retention rate. We anticipate this investment to serve as the cornerstone for Ringle's global expansion, enabling the company to provide the best educational service to customers worldwide," said Hong Sang-min, CEO of Nextrans that invested both in Ringle's early days and series A.

 

 



THE.WAVE.TALK specializes in developing household water quality measuring devices and diagnostic bacteria infection devices, and this investment sums the cumulative amount to 9 billion won, or approximately 8 million USD.

 

This last investment was made through Deep Impact Day, an impact investment competition program conducted by SK for social ventures, and former investors include Blue Point Partners, Naver D2SF, Estec Pharma, LB Investment, Yellowdog, and Big Basin Capital.



 

Having been an active Born2Global Centre member since 2018, the home water quality sensor developed by THE.WAVE.TALK is a tenth of the size of its competitors in the US and Japan and is cheaper with the same performance.

 

Additionally, preparations are underway to not only supply sensors but also to start a data business. It is a form of analyzing the nation's water quality data collected through the cloud network through AI and establishing the root cause - and countermeasures - to rectify the situation. 

 

THE.WAVE.TALK is currently supplying a complimentary self-developed water quality sensor “WaterTalk Home” to 100 Seoul residents, providing a service that enables the quality of tap and purified water to be measured. It plans to expand service areas from Seoul to Busan, Daejeon, Gwangju, and Jeju.




 



Born2Global Centre’s member startup GSIL, a smart safety specialist, recently attracted 1.5 billion KRW (1.3 million USD) worth of investments from the Korea Credit Guarantee Fund. 

 

GSIL has been an active Born2Global Centre member since 2016 and developed a smart safety system that can ensure the safety of workers in construction or industrial sites.

 

Through this investment, GSIL was lauded for its successful implementation and operation of smart safety systems at more than 50 public institutions and construction sites of large corporations. Technological capabilities and business growth potential through continuous research and development based on on-site demand also played a major role in getting this investment.

 

The smart safety system is for an integrated safety management in which Internet of Things (IoT) technology is fused and combined based on the risk matrices. By providing real-time worker safety management, risk assessment, equipment inspection, process management, and work environment factors to safety managers, efficient safety management and emergency relief can be quickly implemented. This technology has been recognized and verified by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and the Ministry of Public Administration and Security.

 

With this new investment, GSIL plans to focus on providing a more progressive smart safety management system that will lead the advancement of safety management from safety design using smart technology towards construction, data accumulation, and productivity management.



 

CEO Jung-Woo Lee said, “We will accelerate the development of new smart safety technologies in high-demand areas, such as construction safety, power generation companies, airports, and high-tech plants, as well as increase the future value potential in the smart safety field through system convergence and integration.” 


As GSIL plans to become the first mover in the global market in the field of smart safety management, it is working to expand into the US, Kuwait, and Indonesian markets in the near future.



 

 




Softberry, which operates the eco-friendly electric vehicle charging and payment service platform “EV Infra,” announced on January 28 that it has attracted strategic Pre-Series A investments from SK Rent-a-car, as well as ZER01NE by Hyundai Motor Company.

Softberry plans to jointly carry out technological development projects with Hyundai Motor Company in the future through the admission into the Hyundai Motors ZER01NE accelerator program.

“EV Infra”, an integrated platform for electric vehicle charging stations used by most domestic electric vehicle users, provides information on charging stations to electric vehicle users and relevant companies. Since October 2019, it has provided simple charging and payment services, growing more than eight times in comparison to the previous year.

Since October last year, SK Rent-a-Car has been providing electric vehicle charging solutions to electric vehicle customers through EV All-in-One Rental, a strategic investor. It plans to expand charging services in the future.

Softberry also forged business alliances last year with companies like GS Caltex, SK Rent-a-car, Hyundai Motor Group, LG Chem, and Lotte Rental and was selected as a promising social impact startup in the 'Impact Ups” overseas expansion support project.  

 

Softberry CEO Park Yonghee said, “In order to popularize eco-friendly vehicles, we must make sure electric vehicle users are at ease and that conventional vehicle users do not experience any discomfort in riding electric vehicles. In an effort to do so, we are actively expanding our services and building upon our mission to spread the joy of riding electric vehicles, as is evident by our slogan “the joy of charging”. 



 

 

 

 

20210128_WEF

President Moon Jae-in on Jan. 27 delivers a special address to the World Economic Forum 2021 via videoconferencing from Cheong Wa Dae. (Yonhap News)


By Xu Aiying and Yoon Sojung

President Moon Jae-in on Jan. 27 called Korea a "safe and stable partner and investment destination."


In a special address to the Davos Agenda 2021 of the World Economic Forum via videoconferencing, President Moon said that despite the pandemic, Korea has never resorted to a lockdown or border closure.


"I hope that the Korean New Deal will lay ground for global companies and venture start-ups to take on new challenges and become a catalyst for expanding cooperation in future industries," he said.

"Korea will host the second P4G (Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030) Summit in May, through which we seek to spearhead international cooperation in overcoming the climate crisis."


"As COVID-19 becomes more prolonged, inequality is widening — a gap that we are witnessing both within countries, and between countries,” he said. "Equally as important as responding to the immediate COVID-19 outbreak and the economic crisis, is our commitment to pool our wisdom to fight against polarization and inequality in the post-COVID-19 era."


On Korea's COVID-19 situation, the president said, "Korea has entered the stage of overcoming this pandemic, and has set a goal for inclusive recovery and resurgence."


"As with all other countries, we will begin by carrying out vaccinations which will be the first step we take towards herd immunity," he added.

"Korea has entered into contracts with many pharmaceutical companies to secure a supply of various types of vaccines that will sufficiently cover our entire population. We have decided on free vaccinations for the country to uphold the cause of an inclusive recovery in our everyday lives."


The chief executive's speech was streamed via videoconferencing with other influential global figures attending the forum in Switzerland, which hosts the event every year.

xuaiy@korea.kr

 

 

 

By Hyunjin Choi

 

South Korean President Moon Jae-in participated in the government forum on plans, “The three major strategies to promote content industry” on 17th September at the Seoul campus of the Korea Creative Content Agency. Among the other dignitaries were Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki, Culture Minister Park Yang-woo, Science Minister Choi Ki-young and Park Young-sun, Minister of SMEs and startups, as well as Na Young-seok, a renowned TV producer, NCsoft founder Kim Taek-jin and NetMarble CEO Bang Jun-hyuk.

 

“Content industry goes beyond a culture field. It has become a vital industry that propels Korean economy. It will enrich our life, and in the end, will become the source of requisite. Korean’s pride has gotten stronger than ever with the power of contents and culture,” said president Moon in his speech. 

 

 

“World-best high-speed internet network enables game developers to create quality online games, making Korea to rank the no.1 e-sports country. BTS has developed an innovative business model to interact with fans directly. Furthermore, lots of Korean TV contents have been exported overseas such as “Grandpas over flowers”, a South Korean travel reality show. Responding sensitively to the fourth industrial revolution, Korean wave contents and creative contents by one-man media can be enjoyed throughout the world, attributed to global platform and world-first 5G commercialization technology. Highlighting the excellency in Korean contents, the government will support for any creators with creative ideas and innovative technology to fulfill their dreams,” added President Moon.

 

 

It is the first time for President Moon to attend the forum related to content industry. The Blue House stated that this shows the government’s will to support content industry.

 

Aggressive investments is a part of the government’s three major strategies for content industry.

According to the government official, policy financing will be set up for the next potential startups to scale up. The government plans to form ‘Content venture fund’ and “Content corporate guarantees’ to expand the investment up to more than 1 trillion won (USD 833 million) for the industry. The financing aims at offering financial support in the planning and development phase especially for the minor genres that have hard time securing investment. The funds are expected to enable high-risk, small-pocketed content market to finance on a stable basis.

 

The government will strive to secure future growth momentum by nurturing tangible contents harnessing Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality. Public sectors together with the government will take initiative to apply the tangible contents to education field so as to activate the tangible content market.


“Our goal is to build the largest tangible contents infrastructure ever in Asia and cultivate the experts.

In an effort to maintain sustainable Korean wave, we will concentrate on increasing content exports abroad by expanding Korean language and Korean culture education. We will take action on creating solid production environment for creators not to suffer illegal copying or counterfeit goods.

Don’t limit your imagination. Challenge everything you imagine. The contents you are envisioning are going to lead the world. The government will support for you,” said President Moon. 

 

 

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