LG Electronics eyes promising Skolkovo startups

A delegation of more than 40 representatives of South Korea’s LG Electronics visited the Skolkovo innovation centre on Monday to investigate opportunities for cooperation and meet some of Skolkovo’s hi-tech startups.

LG Electronics' CTO Seung-Kwon Skott Ahn measures his blood sugar level using Brain Beat's noninvasive glucometer at the Skolkovo Technopark. Photo: Sk.ru.

The delegation was headed by Seung-Kwon Skott Ahn, chief technology officer of the Seoul-headquartered LG Electronics, which manufactures and sells consumer electronics, mobile communications technology and vehicle components, among other goods.

“This is the first time we have hosted such a big delegation from Korea; it’s an honour for us,” said Alexei Belyakov, head of the Skolkovo Foundation’s industrial technologies cluster, welcoming the LG delegation to the Skolkovo Technopark on Monday.

The delegation watched presentations of both the Skolkovo Foundation and the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech), before examining 10 Skolkovo innovations presented by their inventors.

A noninvasive glucometer made by Skolkovo biomed resident Brain Beat piqued the curiosity of the delegation, and a queue formed of people eager to test the level of their blood sugar (though there were far fewer volunteers to test their results against a traditional fingerstick test). Brain Beat has several competitors around the world seeking to make life easier for diabetics and other patients, but the Russian startup’s technology is cheaper and more mobile, Edvard Krizhanovsky, general director of Brain Beat, told the delegation. Unlike its competitors, its results are not affected by sweat on the skin.

“In terms of potential cooperation, first of all I see the integration of our sensors into LG’s mobile systems. For example, people would be able to measure their blood sugar level directly using their smartphone,” Krizhanovsky told Sk.ru.

Skolkovo's acting senior vice president for innovations Kirill Kaem shows Skott Ahn the Skolkovo innovation city from the Technopark. Photo: Sk.ru.

Brain Beat recently completed a series of tests of its glucometer in St. Petersburg clinics.

“We examined 422 diabetics, and got brilliant results: the margin of error did not exceed 20 percent,” Krizhanovsky told Sk.ru. The glucometer could reach the market by the end of next year, he said.

Also eliciting a lot of interest among the LG representatives was an automated driving system made by Cognitive Systems. The computer vision-based modular software works in any weather and on any roads, Cognitive Technologies’ vice president for business development Alexander Shkilev told the delegation, demonstrating the system in real time on a computer screen. The system includes pedestrian detection, collision warning and smart lane detection.

Cognitive Systems, a resident of Skolkovo’s IT cluster, produced the software for the self-driving truck being developed by the major Russian truck-maker Kamaz, and is also partnering up with the Russian agricultural equipment manufacturer Rostselmash on self-driving tractors.

“We haven’t done any joint cooperation with LG, we’re just getting started,” Shkilev told Sk.ru.

“LG Electronics is a huge company, and one of their businesses is related to the automotive industry: LG Vehicle Components. They are a tier one company,” he said, meaning that it supplies components directly to car manufacturers. “We are a tier two company,” so they supply to tier one companies, he said, explaining Cognitive Systems’ interesting in working with LG.

There is no legal framework yet for driverless cars to be tested on Russia’s roads, but Cognitive Systems has a ready product in the form of driver assistance systems that alert the driver to the presence of obstacles and help them to keep in lane.

“When it comes to a higher degree of autonomy, that’s closely connected to the legislation, and in Russia, self-driving cars are essentially prohibited on the roads [by the lack of legislation],” Shkilev told Sk.ru.

“We are waiting for legislation to regulate them, and once that happens we will increase the autonomy levels of our products,” he said.