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[StartupRecipe] 5 Startups Driving Korea’s AI Ecosystem

#Weekly Funding Overview

[June.3 ~ June. 7]

The total funds raised by Korean startups of the week is KRW 205.2 Billion.

CompanyIndustryAmountRoundInvestors
Polaris3DRobotics15 billionSeries BSmilegate Investment, KODIT, Evergreen Investment Partners, JX Partners, Kingo Investment Partners, Hi Investment Partners, JB Investment
INTERXManufacturing AI Solution18 billionSeries BKDB Development Bank, Korea Investment & Securities, EcoPro Partners, Wonik Investment Partners, Korea Investment Partners, KODIT, BNK Investment & Securities, LS Electric
Dealer tireTire marketplace5 billionKorea Development Bank, ES Investor, TBT Partners, HL Holdings, Strong Ventures
DWhaleHR-Series AKorea Investment Partners, We Ventures, 500 Global
JecleanBedding recycling-Series ADAEDEOK VENTURE PARTNERS​
ShotcakeContent-M&APlaylist
Tau MedicalMedical device22 billionSeries CSmilegate Investment, Stonebridge Ventures, We Ventures, Gu equity, Korea Development Bank
Cosmos labWater battery4.8 billionPre-Series AHi Investment Partners, Gyeongnam Venture Investment, Rising S Ventures, Golden Oak Ventures, KODIT
SouvisIndustrial AI-Series Ventuers
CetekCO2 capture tech900 millionKorea Investment Accelerator
AgefreeSenior career edu-SeedKakao Ventures, Korea Investment Partners, Channel Bom
Twelve labsMultimodal AI70 billionSeries Aew Enterprise Associates, NVentures, Index Ventures, Radical Ventures, WndrCo, and Korea Investment Partners
Robo AreteFood Robot-Paser Enterprise
NtecbiosGreen bio2 billionPre-Series AENSL Partners, Korea Business Angle Association
SoteriaFabless33 billionSeries B
Wrtn TechnoogiesGen AI25 billionPre-series BBRV Capital Management, Capstone Partners, IBK Industrial Bank, Z Venture Capital
SpotliteModel casting platform800 millionAntler Korea, Strong Ventures, The Ventures
From SeoulAvatar platform-SeedD.Camp, The Vetures
VestelalabIndoor Location Service3 billionSeries BSamho Green Investment, JCH Investment, Kangwon National University Technology Holdings, Ajou IB
LSBIOBio-Pre-Series ANew Paradigm Investment, Korea Alternative Investment Asset Management
FrankitFranchise platform-GrantTIPS

#Major Funding

  • TwelveLabs, an AI video understanding specialist, has secured a $50 million investment from global investors. The cumulative investment amount has reached $77 million. Developing multi-modal video understanding technology, TwelveLabs plans to use the latest investment to release monthly updates for its ultra-large AI video language generation models ‘Pegasus’ and ‘Marengo’, which were launched in March.
  • Soteria, a fabless startup, has raised $33 million in funding. Established in 2018, the company specializes in ultra-low-power high-performance computing (HPC) accelerators, targeting large and medium-sized data centers as its key differentiation.
  • WRTN, an AI service platform, has raised $25 million in funding, bringing its total investment to $44 million. WRTN provides various AI portal services, including AI character chatbot creation, chat and studio tools, and plans to further enhance its offerings

#Trend Analysis

Five Startups Driving Korea’s AI Ecosystem

Artificial Intelligence (AI) remains the hottest trend in the investment market this year. According to data from the Ministry of SMEs and Startups, Korean startups in the AI field attracted 91.4 billion won (approximately $70 million) in investments during the first quarter, a staggering 345% increase compared to the same period last year. Mirroring global trends, the startups that have successfully secured substantial investments or are expected to garner significant funding in Korea are primarily focused on AI semiconductors and generative AI.
Five startups – Rebellions, Deepx, Furiosa AI, Upstage, and Rrtn Technologies – have emerged as the most sought-after investment targets in the Korean AI landscape. Most of these companies have raised over 100 billion won in funding and are experiencing rapid growth.

Data from Startuprecipe indicates that the average time between Series A and Series B funding rounds for these five companies is one year and eight months, while the average time to the next funding round is one year and four months. Given the recent downturn in the investment market, the ability of these companies to raise substantial funds in a relatively short period is a clear indication of strong investor interest.
Leading the pack is Rebellions, an AI chip maker that has secured 280 billion won (approximately $215 million) in funding and is preparing for an initial public offering (IPO) less than four years after its inception. The company’s success is attributed to its AI semiconductor, which outperforms Nvidia’s GPUs in terms of speed. Furiosa AI, another AI semiconductor startup, recently unveiled its second-generation chip, Renegade, and is currently raising additional funds and preparing for an IPO.

Deepx, a developer of on-device AI semiconductors, is the most recent investment success story, with an eight-fold increase in valuation from its previous funding round. In the generative AI space, Upstage and Rrtn Technologies have been riding the investment wave since last year. Upstage, an AI startup, secured 100 billion won (approximately $77 million) in funding through oversubscription in April. The company is experiencing rapid growth as its pre-trained language model, Solar, gains recognition in the global market.
Rrtn Technologies, an AI portal service provider, has been growing at an impressive pace, with all of its investment rounds occurring within less than a year since its founding, including the latest pre-Series B investment.
While some industry observers point out that AI startups still need to demonstrate tangible results, such as actual sales, the global AI frenzy shows no signs of abating, and Korean AI startups are expected to continue their strong performance in the foreseeable future.

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