Korean SMEs hunt for opportunities at CES

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Korean SMEs hunt for opportunities at CES

Small and midsize Korean companies at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show are seizing the opportunity to expand into the global market.

The state-run Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (Kotra) has set up a Korea pavilion with 64 booths showing off new technology from 55 small and midsize companies at this year’s show, which runs through tomorrow in Las Vegas. It’s the largest number since Kotra first began participating in 2000. Last year, the agency fielded just 35 companies.

Items that garnered attention from overseas buyers included Carnavicom’s platform screen doors, which come with a Lidar sensor that measures the distance of obstacles and people nearby, and ESV’s drones. ESV recently became the first Korean manufacturer to sign an export deal for racing drones to the United States. Also notable were ATNS Group’s portable air purifiers and Raontech’s micro display panels that can be applied on wearable devices.

“Our role is to support domestic companies and open partnership opportunities that will lead to contracts with foreign companies,” said Kwon Oh-suk, director general of Kotra’s Los Angeles office.

Over the duration of CES, one of the world’s largest consumer electronics shows, Kotra organized meetings between Korean companies and foreign retailers. On Friday, Newegg, a California-based online retailer of IT devices, had a meeting with Korean companies participating in CES.

Samsung Electronics also brought along nine start-ups that it supported with investment to this year’s CES. The technology is on display at the Eureka Park booth, an area at CES where start-ups can demo their products and provide opportunities to meet with their founders.

Among the Samsung nine is Baobab Studios, a virtual reality animation company whose work has already been invited to renowned film festivals including Sundance and Cannes. Another is BioBeats, a mobile app that combines artificial intelligence and health care to alert users of harmful signs based on heartbeat, sleep and activity analysis. Podcast app Otto Radio curates podcasts and audio news according to user’s preferences and timespan. Lotik installs sensors that detect water use inside homes and buildings and can alert users through an app about potential plumbing damage and excessive water use.

All nine received funding from Samsung Next, a Samsung Electronics subsidiary meant to boost the company’s network and cooperate with start-ups worldwide.

The company said Wednesday that is has created another fund worth $150 million to provide pre-seed capital to series-B start-ups with a focus on virtual reality, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, or IoT.

This year’s CES had 3,800 companies from 150 countries around the world. The show has been growing every year and is expected to break a record again as the number of registered visitors this year has surpassed 165,000.

BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]
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