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Startups line up to meet with SK Telecom

Promising tech startups from around the county — and around the world — are swinging through Mintz Levin’s doors in San Diego this week to have a once-in-a-lifetime meeting with representatives of South Korean wireless giant SK Telecom.

It’s part of CommNexus' MarketLink program, which holds six or seven events a year to give emerging companies priceless face time with multinational tycoons.

“This year the program has become more popular and it looks as though we will be hosting eight,” said Kristen Long, program manager at CommNexus, a San Diego-based nonprofit tech industry association.

There have been 32 sessions since MarketLink began in 2005. Executives from Ontario-based IMAX Corp. starred in the February program.

Contracts, partnerships and deals to license up-and-coming technologies sometimes come out of the discussions.

About 32 companies were selected to meet with top-level SK Telecom executives on Tuesday and Wednesday at Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo PC's local office. That’s twice as many as the typical number of companies selected for each MarketLink event.

The group gathered Monday at Mintz Levin’s sleek office for an informal reception to introduce themselves and get acquainted over cheese spreads and red wine.

SalesBump's CEO Etesh Mangray eagerly made the traffic-heavy trek from Santa Monica to meet this week with the execs.

“SK has been in the forefront of mobile Internet for a long time. We hope to tap into the mobile expertise,” he said.

As more content is created in streams, conventional display ads don’t work as well, he said.

"SalesBump is building a platform to enable publishers and advertisers to create, manage and monetize the popularity of hashtags," he said.

San Diego-based ai-one inc. pitched its offerings Tuesday to the mobile operator. The company, which has discovered a form of biologically inspired neural computing that processes language and learns the way the brain does, was looking for two investments — each about $3 million — from SK.

One is a next-generation Deep Personalization Project whose goal is to create an intimate personal agent while providing the user with total privacy control.

San Diego-based Perminova, a graduate of the EvoNexus incubator, makes a sensor for heart-failure patients that’s worn like a necklace.

Data is sent via wireless technology to a conventional phone and then to a Web-based system, helping cardiovascular facilities keep heart-failure patients out of the hospital.

Health Companion Inc., another local company, offers a consumer-oriented health information management and engagement system to chronicle and communicate all things health care.

“I assume everyone here can manage their phone bill on their phone but probably no one can comprehensively manage ways to communicate with their physicians and track health care expenses,” said Joshua Reicher, co-founder.

Startup-heavy Silicon Valley also has strong representation this week.

Amperics Inc. in South San Francisco is developing the next generation of energy storage devices. Its first product, which will charge phones in about 10 seconds, is expected to be released to the market in 2014.

Tamatura in San Jose is trying to make the next generation of FLO TV.

Seven of the 32 companies hail from Canada.

One is Toronto-based Synaptop, which makes a virtual computer of sorts that allows users to watch movies and listen to music.

"MarketLink is an example of what is unique about San Diego — the way this community comes together around connecting smart people with interesting technology and ways to make those technologies and companies progress," said David Fransen, consul general of Canada in Los Angeles.

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