Korean Educational Company Invests $5 Million in US Education Startup

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by Yeseul Oh
The new education program will advise customers on education solutions.

Korean education and publishing company, Woongjin Thinkbig  invested $5 million on US-based education startup Kidaptive last January. Kidaptive is a California-based company that develops teaching programs using big data and machine learning technologies. In 2015, Kidaptive acquired Hodoo English, an English-learning company based in South Korea, to target the Korean market.  With this investment, Kidaptive plans to increase its team by 20 percent in the United States and 20 percent in South Korea.

The current learning platform of Kidapative analyzes data from the digital books and activities that a child engages with. It can also incorporate educational activities that take place offline and suggest to parents additional materials including videos, based on the child’s performance on the platform.

The two firms have plans to launch a new program that analyzes the behavior of students and recommends materials based on the data. Woongjin will provide data of 240,000 students through its own smart learning service to Kidaptive, while Kidaptive will offer big data analysis technology.

US goods and services trade with Korea totaled an estimated $144 billion in 2016 and trade in services with Korea totaled an estimated $32 billion. The US services trade surplus with Korea was $10 billion. US exports of services to Korea were an estimated $21.6 billion in 2016, 5% more than 2015. Additionally 42 South Korean companies are projected to invest a combined $17.3 billion in the United States by 2021. The list of companies includes Lotte Chemical ($3 billion), Hankook Tire ($800 million) and SK Innovation. 24 South Korean companies will acquire US products and services worth $57.5 billion by 2021. Between January 2003-May 2013, 273 investment projects were announced by South Korean firms in the United States. These projects represent a total capital investment of $27.8 billion and created 32,370 new jobs in the United States.

Yeseul Oh is a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington D.C. and an Asan Wahshington Young fellow with the Asan Academy in Seoul. She is a student of Kyunghee university in South Korea