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[CES 2024] K-water helps startups gain global reach at CES

By Mun So-jeong

Published : Jan. 15, 2024 - 15:10

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Korea Water Resources CEO Yun Seog-dae delievers a speech at the agency's exhibition booth during the CES 2024 tech show in Las Vegas last week. (Korea Water Resources Corporation) Korea Water Resources CEO Yun Seog-dae delievers a speech at the agency's exhibition booth during the CES 2024 tech show in Las Vegas last week. (Korea Water Resources Corporation)

Korea Water Resources, the state-run water management agency also known as K-water, joined this year’s CES, the world’s largest tech show, to support Korean startups to expand their presence in global markets.

During the four-day event, K-water set up a 232-square-meter pavilion at Eureka Park, where entrepreneurs and budding startups can connect with mentors, investors, and corporate leaders. This is the second year of the agency has hosted its booth at the CES.

The water agency opened up the exhibition booth to 19 partner startups this year, offering them the opportunity to foray into the overseas market. Building on last year’s participation of 14 startups, five more partners got a chance to look for global partnerships at this year’s CES.

Under the theme of “Water-Energy-City,” K-water unveiled AI and digital twin technologies related to water management, taking the lead in the climate tech industry.

Some cutting-edge technologies from the K-water pavilion, including an air purifier that purifies the air only with water, without using disposable filters, a solar-powered drinking water purifier, a dehumidification system for zero-energy buildings, and an AI-backed eco-robot that measures water quality and removes algae, won the CES 2024 Innovation Awards in six categories.

Numerous buyers, investors, accelerators, and college officials visited the K-water exhibition booth to find their next unicorn, with a total of over 630 meetings.

One of the partner firms, SMT, introduced an Internet of Things water purification solution that uses energy harvesting technology to measure real-time water quality and temperature, eliminating the need for batteries or external power sources. During the tech show, it secured an exclusive distribution agreement with Turkey and a technology transfer agreement with a Swiss firm.

Another participant GSIL is also discussing a possible export sales agreement of its digital twin model for construction safety to a Japanese construction company.

On the first day of the CES, K-water also hosted a forum on the future vision of the water industry at its pavilion. The keynote speech was delivered by BTE CEO Shim Gyu-jung, a K-water-backed energy startup awarded with last year’s CES Innovation Award and secured a 46 billion won ($35 million) export contract with a US firm for its hydrogen refueling solution.

Since 2018, K-water has served as a platform for budding startups to open up new possibilities in the water industry via global expansion programs such as the one at CES. As of the end of 2023, the cumulative value of exports achieved by K-water-backed startups amounts to some 142.5 billion won, the corporation said.

“South Korea’s innovation in the water sector has won significant attention at CES 2024 as solutions to tackle the climate crisis,” said K-water CEO Yun Seog-dae. “We will continue to help support startups to lead the dynamic, rapidly changing global market.”