SEOUL, June 1 (Korea Bizwire) – With artificial intelligence rapidly spreading across global industries, the latest study from the National Information Society Agency (NIA) has revealed that South Korean startups tend to focus their AI development on the medical and convenience service sectors.
The NIA based its study on 19 startups here that had a transparent business plan related to artificial intelligence and an official website, since official data on local startups in the AI development sector has yet to be compiled.
The NIA discovered that five of the businesses were targeting the medical sector, while four focused on lifestyle services, two on education, and another two each offor hardware and ecommerce. Six of the remaining startups were not exclusive to a specific industry, providing their AI platform to other businesses.
Three of the five medical startups were developing AI diagnosis technologies, similar to IBM’s Watson for Oncology, and two were developing AI interfaces for patient rehabilitation programs.
The four lifestyle services companies were focused on AI-based air purification technology, legal services, schedule management solutions, and smart chatbots.
According to an NIA official, local startups are targeting the medical and lifestyle services sectors mainly due to the abundance of related data available to them, which is essential for machine learning. “If we want to nurture AI companies in more diverse sectors, they’re going to need access to a larger pool of data,” the official said.
“Ecommerce is one of the most promising sectors for AI, but existing businesses already have a tight grip over the industry, and they’re now developing their own AI interfaces, leaving fewer opportunities for startups.”
South Korea’s AI industry is still in its infancy, and there are only a handful of cases in which a major company has purchased an AI startup, with Samsung’s acquisition of Viv Labs the most widely publicized.
Naver, South Korea’s leading web portal operator, acquired in March Vinclu, a Japanese startup developing a holographic virtual assistant, and is currently looking for South Korean startups to invest in.
“We’ve had a number of startups bidding for our investment project, so we’ve delayed the application deadline from June 7 to 31,” said a Naver official. “If there are businesses that we find particularly promising, we could consider an acquisition.”
By Kevin Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)