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SK Telecom adds new AI partners and invests in more start-ups

SK Telecom's relentless effort to lead the telco AI market shows no signs of abating.

Nick Wood

November 7, 2023

3 Min Read
Artificial Intelligence Concept. Microprocessor with the letters AI.
Artificial Intelligence Concept. Microprocessor with the letters AI.

SK Telecom’s relentless effort to lead the telco AI market shows no signs of abating.

Fresh from agreeing with Deutsche Telekom to jointly develop a telco-specific large language model (LLM), SKT this week ploughed billions of won into two more AI start-ups, and added them to its growing roster of Korea AI (K-AI) Alliance members.

It’s all in line with SKT’s recently launched AI Pyramid Strategy, under which it has pledged to triple its AI investments over the next five years in an effort to generate KRW25 trillion ($18.5 billion) of AI-related revenue by 2028.

The first, Allganize, offers a range of around 100 different enterprise apps that tap existing LLMs like OpenAI or Llama to improve productivity. So, customers can use it to mine corporate data and generate daily reports, for example. Founded in 2017, it serves more than 200 customers in Japan, Korea and the US.

SKT has invested KRW5.4 billion ($4 million) in Allganize, and plans to collaborate with it on an LLM-based app marketplace that leverages SKT’s own AI and cloud capabilities.

“This collaboration will be a great opportunity for Allganize, which has been providing core AI technology from LLM infrastructure to the app market to global companies, to lead the global AI ecosystem,” said Allganize CEO Lee Chang-soo. “We plan to further accelerate the spread of enterprise business automation AI in the US and Japan through synergies between the two companies, including strategy, and Allganize’s LLM infrastructure, middleware, service experience and know-how.”

SKT has also chucked KRW4 billion ($3 million) at AI biotech firm Imprimed. Also founded in 2017, this Silicon Valley based company specialises in recommending optimal cancer treatment drugs for dogs by analysing accumulated cancer patient data.

Healthcare is one of several adjacent markets targeted by SKT’s AI Pyramid Strategy, and the investment in Imprimed will serve as springboard into it, SKT said.

The two companies plan to combine Imprimed’s biotechnology with SKT’s AI solutions to develop predictive prognosis tools that analyse images and data including clinical data and the genetic information of cancer patients.

Imprimed is already providing a drug analysis service for dogs with blood cancer to more than 200 veterinary hospitals in the US. SKT hopes Imprimed’s sales network will serve as a bridgehead for entry into the US for ‘Xcalibur’, its own AI healthcare offering for service animals.

As part of the investment, both Allganize and Imprimed will join the K-AI Alliance, bringing the total number of members to 16. SKT plans to host these partners at its SK Tech Summit next week, giving them an opportunity to showcase their capabilities and network with other SKT affiliates, as well as each other.

“As a global AI company, the role of the K-AI Alliance is very important for SKT to promote AI transformation in various industries through AI technology.” said Ha Min-yong, SKT’s chief business development officer. “We will continue to work with domestic and foreign AI players in the future. We will strive to revitalise Korea’s AI ecosystem by expanding and strengthening cooperation with others.”


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About the Author(s)

Nick Wood

Nick is a freelancer who has covered the global telecoms industry for more than 15 years. Areas of expertise include operator strategies; M&As; and emerging technologies, among others. As a freelancer, Nick has contributed news and features for many well-known industry publications. Before that, he wrote daily news and regular features as deputy editor of Total Telecom. He has a first-class honours degree in journalism from the University of Westminster.

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