Korean Startup Ecosystem
The startup ecosystem in Korea has been surging since 2015 because the Korean government launched a drive to support startups and also promote entrepreneurship among the youth.
Entrepreneurship drive has been one sure strategy at the core agenda of past and successive presidents to alleviate the rate of unemployment among the youth.
Therefore, the Korean Government has instituted and empowered many organizations to run programs that are essential to the continued innovative drive it is pursuing. The government has outlined plans to support new and creative ideas, especially from foreigners and other sectors of the economy.
In the meantime, achieving these ambitious technological goals will also help propel the government’s steep dive into the fourth industrial revolution.
Therefore, here are 15 notable Korean government organizations and agencies that support startups. The kind of support varies according to each organization’s setup and goals.
However, most of them support early-stage ventures and startups. Whether you are looking for funds, office space, VC partners, mentoring, acceleration or global expansion, these companies and organizations listed here can help you in one way or the other.
It’s time to access them for the benefit and growth of your startup.
Korean Government Agencies that Support Startups and Small Business
This is the official government agency that is constituted to oversee and implement the government’s grand science and ICT policies. It is established to evaluate science and technology policy, support innovative research and development, human resource and skills development in ICT and accelerate growth engine. Presently, it is now championing the 4th industrial revolution.
Pangyo Techno Valley is the Korean version of Silicon Valley in the USA. Located in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province of Korea, the vast industrial and startup campus is home to some of Korea’s top tech companies such as NCSoft Corp., Kakao, SK Planet, Nexon and other global companies. Currently, it also hosts global startups that are accepted into the annual K-Startup Grand Challenge program. First opened in 2011, the campus has accommodated over 1,200 companies. Aside from the startup campus, you can find a global R&D center as well as the center for creative economy and innovation.
Creative content is at the forefront of Korea’s digital innovation. The Korea Creative Content Agency ensures the promotion of Korean content industry. They provide education for content creators and serve as an incubator for content start-ups. Some of the fields they support include games, Comics, AR/VR, Animation, Character Licensing, Broadcasting, and music.
The CCEI is one of the leading government agencies that help local startups and business to expand globally. Opened in 2014, it operates 18 local offices in 17 regions across Korea. The CCEI is focused on creative viable startup hubs and providing special assistance to small and medium enterprises from the regions.
K-Startup is a government-run online hub that announces various startup programs aimed for the youth. The hub is filled with enormous resources that will help propel your startup from an idea into commercialization. Warning: the site is in Korean.
NIPA is Korea government’s IT promotion organization. Established in 1998, NIPA is affiliated to the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning. They are tasked to promote Korea’s ICT industry and attract global business partnerships. Therefore, they also implement relevant policies through a robust R&D strategy.
The SBC exists to support startups and small business from business plans design, incubation, early stage, growth, market entry, and sustainable growth. They also offer loans with little interests to enterprises that plan to scale.
The SMBA is one of the agencies under the Ministry of SMEs and Startups that foster innovation of Small Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and Micro Enterprises (MEs). Most importantly, their business mission is underpinned in three areas; business growth promotion, fostering business startups and support for micro-enterprises.
KISED is also one of the affiliated organizations under the Ministry of SMEs and Startups, tasked with creating a convenient environment for startups to thrive and create jobs for the creative economy. Moreover, they provide entrepreneurship education, develop startup infrastructure, mentoring support and many others.
If you are looking for venture funding for your startup, the Korea Venture Investment Corporation (KVIC) should be top on your list. They provide a capital source for the venture capital market. Some of the funds they provide are related to job creation, angel funds, foreign VC investment funds, and industrial technology commercialization. This agency is also affiliated to the Ministry of SMEs and Startups.
The Korea Growth Investment Corporation is an independent funds-of-fund management agency that provides risk capital to Korean startups and SMEs at various stages of their business cycle. It had dedicated professionals to ensure that, the funds are channeled effectively for their intended purposes.
This mentoring center under the Korea Youth Entrepreneurship Foundation is a place where startups mentees are paired with experienced startup and business owners to help early-stage businesses.
If you need consultation about establishing a global business or trade-investment venture in Korea, KOTRA is the right place for you. Hence, do not entangle yourself with any stress. They offer comprehensive direction for companies that intend to invest in Korea or expand their markets internationally. they also operate BuyKorea (a B2B E-marketplace for Korean products).
Do you have any inventive idea? Are you seeking patent attorneys to file a patent for your idea? Then, KIPA is your one-stop service center for such tasks. KIPA help startups through idea acquisition, intellectual property registration, patent application and all other stages required for your invention to commercialization. Moreover, they host the Seoul International Invention Fair annually.
KOBO is a non-profit institution also affiliated with the Ministry of SMEs and startups, charged with the responsibility of facilitating technology finance for innovative companies and SMEs in Korea. They provide credit guarantee, technology appraisal, equity investment and technology transfer for many startups and firms.
Do you know of any other agencies that are not mentioned in this article? Please send me an email and we are sure to update it. Meanwhile, try these agencies.