The Korea Herald


SK-backed Sapeon raises W60b in series A funding

By Moon Joon-hyun

Published : Aug. 30, 2023 - 15:34

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(Sapeon) (Sapeon)

Sapeon, a global AI semiconductor company that spun out from SK Telecom last year, announced Wednesday it concluded its Series A financing round, securing over 60 billion won ($45.4 million) in investments. With the latest round, the company's valuation now exceeds 500 billion won.

Ascent Equity Partners led the financing as the primary investor. Other key investors included GS Group affiliates like Daebo Communication & Systems Corp., Hana Financial Group, Mirae Asset Venture Investment, WeVentures and a venture fund called Episode 1.

"The investment underlines the potential of our technology across different sectors. We anticipate a productive, intimate collaboration with our investors to enhance AI services utilizing our technological know-how," said Sapeon CEO Ryu Soo-jung.

Central to Sapeon's strategy is providing end-to-end AI services. This includes hardware grounded in AI semiconductors and software that spans from AI algorithms to AI-centric services.

In partnership with the Hana Institute of Technology, the company has been testing the effectiveness of optical character recognition models powered by its AI chips. A Sapeon official said its X220 model showcased its reliability in financial image processing, improving document recognition, which is crucial for streamlining document workflows in the banking industry.

In a separate partnership signed in April, Sapeon and GS Group are actively collaborating. Initiatives include IT solutions provider GS Neotek's potential incorporation of SK Telecom's digital remastering solution, Supernova, which is powered by Sapeon’s X220. The AI-based upscaling technology could improve the quality and vibrancy of digital content delivered through the content delivery networks serviced by GS Neotek.

Sapeon has also been working with GS Group to deploy its chips in GS Neotek's data centers for AI-driven contact centers that could facilitate faster data processing and more accurate response mechanisms, enabling more effective call routing and the potential for real-time analytics to predict and address customer needs.

Sapeon is set to release the X330, an inference NPU, later this year. This product claims to implement a fourfold improvement in performance compared to its predecessor, the X220.