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New Accelerator Seeds Core Technology Startups, Providing Each up to $1M in Combined Funding, Services and Facilities

SK Telecom Americas today launched SKTA Innovation Accelerator to fund and help create the essential data center and core technologies needed to meet modern computing demands. SKTA Innovation Accelerator pairs entrepreneurs with Strategic Partners and provides up to $1 million in combined funding, services and facilities. SK Telecom Americas is the business development and venture capital arm of SK Telecom, Korea’s largest wireless operator and a global technology leader, and has worked with some of the brightest minds in VC and angel investing—and some of the biggest technology companies in Silicon Valley—to design this novel new funding model.

Data and processing is increasingly being pushed into the cloud as mobile devices become the dominant computing platform for both work and play. There are more iPhones sold each day than people born in the world, and mobile devices are becoming as powerful as computers1. The Commodore 64 computer, once the most powerful PC, functioned on only 64kb of RAM, but Apple’s iPhone 5s has 1 GB of RAM. The corresponding semiconductor, hardware, management software and energy infrastructure required to keep up with these new developments is staggering, and growing exponentially as connected devices and wearables proliferate.

“Over the past decade, venture capital funding has swung to software and cloud services, and it’s no longer in vogue for VCs to invest in core technologies,” said Min Park, president of SK Telecom Americas. “We created SKTA Innovation Accelerator to fill this critical void in the technology ecosystem by pioneering a new funding model that brings financial velocity to IT infrastructure startups by enabling a quick path from concept to exit. Our model simultaneously de-risks the investment for initial investors and founders, and gives Strategic Partners early insight into new technologies that can rapidly fill holes in their product portfolio or empower them to enter new markets.”

The Innovation Matchmaker: How the Accelerator Works

SKTA Innovation Accelerator is an “innovation matchmaker” that offers a new way to seed and accelerate core technology startups by matching entrepreneurs with Strategic Partners. The goal of the Accelerator is to identify and cultivate tomorrow’s IT infrastructure solutions today, providing up to $1 million in funding composed of working capital, professional services, development tools and state-of-the-art facilities per venture to jumpstart the technology ecosystem needed to power the next wave of innovation. SKTA Innovation Accelerator matches each portfolio company with a Strategic Partner committed to providing technical and market guidance to rapidly develop a minimum-viable product for the right market segment. The Accelerator strives to provide everything entrepreneurs need to remain laser focused on transforming their idea into a venturable proof-of-concept.

During the Seed Phase of operation, the startup (together with the professionals and support teams at the Accelerator) develops the product, business plan, milestones and metrics to deliver the product to market. At this time, patents are filed, simulation data is collected and analyzed, and prototypes are built and tested. The Seed Phase should last between 6 and 12 months. At the conclusion of the Seed Phase, the projects that show the most potential will be selected to receive Series A funding and will progress on one of two exit paths:

1. Spin-In: Acquisition by Strategic Partner
2. Venture: Additional funding from traditional capital sources

“The pending rollout of the Internet-of-Things and the continued exponential growth of the Cloud require a seismic shift from the current infrastructure and how it is managed,” said Ken Lawler, senior advisor to SKTA Innovation Accelerator, renowned semiconductor investor and a founding partner of Battery Ventures’ Silicon Valley office. “The way in which people interact with the internet is about to undergo another evolutionary step. Delivering core technologies to make that step a reality is what the Innovation Accelerator is built to do.”

“SKTA Innovation Accelerator is helping to grow the broader technology ecosystem required to ensure innovation keeps pace with future demands,” said David Lee, venture partner to SK Telecom Ventures, founder and managing partner of SV Angel and an early investor in Twitter, Foursquare, Flipboard, Dropbox and Airbnb. “This new accelerator has flipped the VC funding model on its head to make it financially viable for entrepreneurs and VCs to grow the next wave of hardware-based technologies.”

For more information about SKTA Innovation Accelerator or to learn how to apply, please visit: http://sktainnopartners.com/f-a-q/.

About SKTA Innovation Accelerator

SKTA Innovation Accelerator is a different kind of accelerator based in Silicon Valley. We seed core technology startups by matching entrepreneurs with Strategic Partners committed to providing technical and market guidance for rapidly developing the minimum-viable product for the right market segment. SKTA Innovation Accelerator identifies and cultivates tomorrow’s IT infrastructure today, providing startups with up to $1 million in funding, professional services, development tools and state-of-the-art facilities to jumpstart the technology ecosystem needed to power the next wave of innovation. For more information please visit http://sktainnopartners.com/

About SK Telecom Americas

SK Telecom Americas (SKTA) is the business development and venture capital arm of SK Telecom, Korea’s largest wireless operator and a global technology leader serving 25 million customers with $16 billion in revenue. In 2011, SK Telecom was the first provider in the world to offer a publicly accessible 4G LTE network, and in 2013 it was first to offer an LTE-Advanced network.

Footnotes:

1. “Why Mobile Matters,” Mobile First, February 21, 2012

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