Upstage, an artificial intelligence (AI) startup that helps companies focus on their core businesses, announced it has raised $27 million in a Series A funding round led by SoftBank Ventures Asia (SBVA) and Company K Partners. The funding round was also participated in by other investors such as TBT Partners, Premier Partners, Stonebridge Ventures, and Primer Sazze Fund.

Upstage plans to use the funds raised to recruit a large number of AI specialists and developers to accelerate the development of its ‘AI Pack.’

Headquartered in Seoul, Upstage enables companies to easily adopt AI solutions that standardize and automate their key tasks. The startup has already shown the strong potential of its ‘AI Pack’–an integrated AI solution currently being developed by its AI specialists that provides companies with technologically superior, practical values when applying AI to their business operations.

According to Upstage, it has received at least 100 inquiries from companies looking to apply AI to their businesses since its launch in October 2020. Within eight months of its establishment, the company has recorded $7.6 million in sales, helping numerous clients successfully adopt AI across a wide variety of verticals such as finance, education, and distribution. Earlier this year, Upstage also garnered global recognition for its AI technology by winning five gold medals in Kaggle, an AI competition participated in by 6 million machine-learning developers from all over the world.

“We plan to actively offer an ‘AI Pack’ that advances AI service models so that companies can focus on their core businesses,” said Sung Kim, Chief Executive Officer of Upstage. “We are looking for global AI specialists and developers and will do our utmost with the recently raised funding to build the business environment under which each industry can advance through AI Pack-based technology innovation.”

In addition to its own growth, Upstage has been actively helping to grow the AI solutions ecosystem. This includes partnering with the NAVER Connect Foundation to run a program that trains AI developers to help expand the AI industry. Upstage also helped to develop the Korean Language Understanding Evaluation (KLUE), an open benchmark data set developed to evaluate the Korean language proficiency of AI. KLUE is publicly accessible and free of charge, as the startup seeks to expedite the advancement of the natural language processing of the Korean language.

“AI technology is becoming increasingly popular, and many companies need to adopt AI solutions to their services,” said Cindy Jin, Partner, SoftBank Ventures Asia. “We expect that Upstage’s AI model and its infrastructure management capabilities will preempt the AI industry fast.”

Outside of Korea, Upstage has established a branch in Hong Kong and is now actively recruiting global talents. By 2022, the startup plans to hire over 200 AI developers, software, and research engineers from around the world to assist with its system and solution development. It also plans to strengthen its organizational structure for future competitiveness and to use this framework to expand across global markets, including Japan, the Americas, and Southeast Asia.

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