Cognex Corporation, the leader in machine vision for factory automation and industrial barcode reading, acquired Sualab, a leading Korean-based developer of vision software using deep learning for industrial applications, for $195 million.
WHO: Headquartered in Seoul, Korea, Sualab was co-founded in 2013 by Song Kiyoung from the idea that artificial intelligence can contribute to the world by automating tasks that have required human effort. Sualab technology enables inspection of the manufacturing industry by researching various machine vision systems that can replace the human eye in the industrial field based on deep learning, machine vision, and supercomputing technologies.
Cognex Corporation is the world’s leader in the machine vision industry, designing, developing, manufacturing, and marketing a wide range of image-based products, all of which use artificial intelligence (AI) techniques that give them the human-like ability to make decisions on what they see. Cognex products include machine vision systems, machine vision sensors, and barcode readers that are used in factories and distribution centers around the world where they eliminate production and shipping errors.
WHY: The acquisition extends the company’s deep learning capabilities and accelerates opportunities to automate difficult visual inspection tasks in industrial markets.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS: “Deep learning enables Cognex to solve many challenging inspection applications in factories, which, until now, could only be done by large teams of human visual inspectors,” said Robert J. Willett, President and CEO of Cognex. “Sualab’s considerable IP, engineering expertise, and extensive market coverage will help us to serve a fast-growing market, primarily in Asia. Today, tens of thousands of people perform difficult, tedious and error-prone visual inspections for flaws and defects on electronic components and subsystems which will be done more reliably and at lower cost in the future with deep learning-based machine vision.”
Dr. Robert J. Shillman, Cognex’s founder and Chairman, said, “We’re very excited to welcome the Sualab team to Cognex; they are a great fit for our work hard, play hard and move fast culture.”
“Our goal at Sualab has been clear since our founding—to be the global leader in deep learning-based vision inspection,” said Sualab CEO and co-founder, Song Kiyoung. “By joining Cognex, we have reached that goal, and together, we plan to accelerate our efforts to help more customers solve even the most complex vision applications faster, easier and more cost-effectively.”
- Cognex has acquired 100% of the company, along with its intellectual properties, for $195 million.
- According to the Korean Herald, the acquisition is considered to be the largest foreign acquisition of a Korean tech start-up.
- Founder Song Kiyoung owned a 25.54% stake in the company, while financial investors, including Stonebridge Ventures, Spring Camp, and Intervest, held 55%.
- Stonebridge Ventures, which invested a total of 13 billion won since 2015 and holds a 17% stake in the company, is expected to exit from the investment with an internal rate of return of 105.79%.
- Sualab founder Song Kiyoung will join Cognex and help lead the world’s largest team of engineers specializing in the use of deep learning for industrial machine vision applications.
- Sualab’s engineering team and intellectual property is expected to enhance Cognex’s existing deep-learning capabilities based on technology acquired from ViDi Systems in April of 2017.
Photo: via Cognex