As sales of smartphones and tablets continue to outpace PC shipments, demand for consistent experiences across devices is accelerating the adoption of cloud services in both the enterprise and the consumer market. The blurring line between the two segments underscores a fundamental shift in user expectations that SK Telecom, South Korea’s largest wireless operator and one of the biggest in Asia, sees as an unmissable growth opportunity.
SKTA Innopartners, the carrier’s Sunnyvale, California-based business development and venture capital arm, last week launched a dedicated incubator for mobile startups looking to fill the market gaps that cloud computing has created. The program is hailed as a first of its kind “innovation matchmaker” that pairs entrepreneurs with established companies in SK Telecom’s partner network to provide a faster and potentially less risky exist path. The telco didn’t specify which firms are participating in the program, but did note that the line up includes some of the “biggest technology companies in Silicon Valley.”
“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, the president of SKTA. “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.”
Startups can apply to the SKTA Innovation Accelerator for a chance at up to $1 million in working capital and resources including professional services, development tools and office space courtesy of a sponsoring partner. SK says that the program aims to provide “everything entrepreneurs need to remain laser focused on transforming their idea into a venturable proof-of-concept.”