Article written by Adam O’Neill
Co-Founder at Asia Advisory – Building people to people links across Asia
Seoul Startup Hub
Features: Central Seoul Location, Good Transport, Foreigner Friendly, Multiple support companies in-house, Seoul Market Access Program, 3D Printing, Test Kitchen
Keywords: #Startup #Incubator #Accelerator #3DPrinting #TestKitchen
This facility is conveniently located in the Gongdeok area, North East of the Han River and features large co-working spaces, dedicated company offices, seminar spaces, rooftop garden, food & beverage test kitchens, 3D printing and prototyping facilities, numerous business support services, an on-site Cafe, 7-Eleven, video/podcast recording studio, idea generation areas and a massive stainless steel slippery slide. The office areas were undergoing re-development but from what I saw during business hours the co-working spaces on the ground floor we mostly full. Excellent space for businesses regardless of the stage of their development.
Korean Silicon Valley, Pangyo, Seongnam Province
Features: Large Facilities, Close proximity to Korean Tech companies; Ahn Labs, Cha Group, Kakao, Daum, Nexon, Naver, Paymentwall, SK Chemical, SK Planet, Yura Corporation. Financial Support, Incubation, Korea Startup Grand Challenge, Prize Money
Keywords: #KStartupGrandChallenge #SiliconValley #PangyoTechValley #Funding
The first week saw a field trip to Pangyo, Korea’s answer to Silicon Valley. This area is particularly well known for Korean Technology companies and is a joint private/public funded area which offers some significant incentives to startups. One of the most prominent being the
K-Startup Grand Challenge. Every year they offer a pitch and support competition for 80 startups from around the world. The incentives include 3 ½ month accelerator program, free office space, mentoring, business support services and networking events. There is also a financial aid component to help cover your living costs in Korea. Based on a “Demo Day” competition later in the year there is also a $22,727 financial contribution for the top 40 companies and an additional 6 months of free office space and additional support from the Korean government to help get your business established in Korea.
All that is good and well but it’s the prizes from the Demo-Day that really grab the headlines, based on the 80 international startups accepted into the program after the first incubation period they are asked to pitch to investors for a Demo-Day. First prize is $100,000, second prize $40,000, third prize $20,000 and fourth prize $6,000 – all highly valued sums for businesses in startup mode.
T.I.P.S Town, Gangnam, Seoul
Features: Technology, Incubator, Gangnam Area, Public-Private Funding Partnership, Access to R&D Funds
Keywords: #R&D #Technology #Incubator #Gangnam #T.I.P.S
T.I.P.S stands for Technology Incubator Program for Startups and is a Public/Private funded program in the Gangnam region of Seoul. There are 4 offices operating over 20 floors of space and support services. Although the entry criteria are limited to a specific range of high-growth tech startups the financial contributions are very significant and in some instances up to nine times the initial venture capital input. One of the key points of difference of this space is that up to 10% of the funding is provided by the Korean government R&D fund. Yes, investment is exchanged for equity but the volume of funding can be significant, up to the equivalent of USD$500,000 from the Korean government and USD$100,000 from the TIPS partners. In some cases the investment received can be matched by the Korean government between 1:1, 1:3, 1:5 and up to 1:9 times, so if your business receives $100,000 from Venture Capital you could receive up to $900,000 from the Korean Government. One of the conditions of program entry is that the business has at least one Korean co-founder, this is to help ensure the future success given the significant level of investment provided.
Naver D2 Startup Factory, Gangnam, Seoul
Features: Funding from Naver Corp, Individual / Group Offices, Large Presentation space for up to 150 people, Technology, Mobility, AR/VR, Health-Tech
Keywords: #Naver #SearchEngine #Gangnam #Mobility #AR/VR #Health-Tech
As the name suggests this is a corporate sponsored incubator funded by Naver Corp. This incubator offers space and support networks and a public event space for up to 150 people. The focus is very tight towards high growth tech-based companies; primarily in AR/VR, Mobility and Heath-Tech. Being a dominant Search engine, Naver Corp are obviously keen to look for businesses that can fit into their existing Tech ecosystem. Again the criteria require a Korean co-founder. It’s worth noting that the website and application forms are all in Korean only.
Busan Startup Cafe, Busan, Korea
Features: Large Collaboration / Presentation Space, Meeting rooms, Subsidised Cafe
Keywords: #Presentation #Busan #Cafe #Collaboration
No questions about what this place is but worth adding to you’re next visit to Busan. It’s primarily an event space but also offers a number of business support facilities. Funded by the various divisions of the Busan Government it’s one of the largest destinations in Busan for startup seminars, meeting spaces and collaboration. The Startup Cafe also features a photography studio, private offices, and breakout rooms.
Photo credit: Jinwoo Kim
B-Square, CENTAP, Busan, Korea
Features: Rooftop Entertainment Area, Large 3D Printing Facilities, Commercial Grade
Keywords: #T.I.P.S #Busan #Haeundae #3DPrinting #3DMapping #Tech
CENTAP is a startup accelerator based in Busan, the 2nd largest city outside of the Seoul area and based right down the bottom of the Korean peninsula. It may seem a long way away but Busan is famous for Haeundae beach and the local waterways give the place a unique and more relaxed feel. Kind of like the Korean equivalent of Australia’s Gold Coast. CENTAP is part of the TIPS program and provides support as mentioned above. However, they also provide some support and shared office space for non-tech startups. The facilities have ten investment and support companies and twenty-five startup tenants. Since opening, they have held over 759 events. One of the features of this centre is their advanced 3D printing capability and prototyping centre. The area provides commercial-grade 3D mapping and printing facilities to help you get up and running. CENTAP also features a large rooftop entertaining/breakout area and a large lecture hall. Again worth noting that the website is only available in Korean.
If you are considering taking your startup to Korea I’d strongly recommend getting some time over in the market. Take a week to go and visit the spaces, talk to the locals, talk to other foreign startup founders, start to build your network. We’re even happy to make some introductions if you like. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
In terms of timing, there will be further Seoul Startup Hub market access programs with dates to be advised. The other milestone worth aiming for is the K-Startup Grand Challenge which opens up applications between May-June with successful participants joining August – November.
Hopefully, this article has been helpful. Please take a few moments to have a look at our other articles on the Korean Startup Ecosystem, along with more of the latest thinking on our website. https://asiaadvisory.co/