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South Korea Host Comeup 2023: Global Startup Nexus

Source: Korea Startup Forum

Seoul, South Korea - COMEUP 2023, billed as one of the most significant startup events in Northeast Asia, kicked off its three-day run at Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP). The event aims to connect global startup ecosystems.

Why It Matters

The event comes as South Korea and Japan, the two largest developed democracies in Northeast Asia outside China, have adopted startup promotion strategies to spur economic growth. 

Since 2013, the South Korean government has pursued creative economy initiatives and startup policies more aggressively than Japan. 

However, under Prime Minister Kishida's administration, Japan also pays more attention to promoting startups and building global connections, such as the "Startup Development Five-year Plan" by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).

The two countries' competition under the startup policies and international outreach efforts will be significant developments.

The Key Highlights

  • Organizers expect more than 700 attendees from countries including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, France, Switzerland, Japan, and Vietnam. The multi-day conference will feature speeches, innovation exhibitions, a startup competition, and other programs.

  • Musician and startup CEO Zior Park will be the keynote speaker for the first day of COMEUP 2023. The second day will focus on open innovation, coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the concept. 20 Companies from NVIDIA, Dassault Systèmes, Hyundai Motor, and NAVER Cloud plan to discuss collaborative projects.

  • The conference will also feature a showcase and pitching event for startups selected through a competitive application process. In addition, networking and matchmaking activities are planned between startups and investors, including venture capital firms from South Korea and abroad, as well as corporate venture capital groups.

  • Some startup support organizations such as FKCCI, KOICA, GEA, and ASEIC plan to exhibit to highlight the entrepreneurial ecosystems in their respective countries. Throughout the three days, COMEUP 2023 will feature various side events and specialized seminars.

  • Complementary programs are also planned with COMEUP 2023, including industry-specific conferences on cosmetics, biotechnology, and technology. Examples include Cosmetic Valley from France and Shonan I-Park from Japan.

Who attended the opening ceremony?

The opening ceremony of COMEUP 2023 was attended by domestic participants such as Eeu-dong Y, Chairman of the Policy Committee of the People Power Party, as well as leaders of startup organizations and musical performer Zior Park, CEO of SYNDROMEZ. Representatives from international government agencies and global companies were also in attendance, including Sami Ibrahim AlHussaini, the Governor of the Small and Medium Size Enterprises Authority in Saudi Arabia, Abdulaziz Al-Risi, Deputy Director General of the Small and Medium Enterprises Authority in Oman, Marc-Antoine Jamet, Chairman of Cosmetic Valley, Olivia Hervy, Chief Ecosystem Officer of Viva Technology Ecosystem, and Howard Wright, Vice President and the Head of Global Startups at AWS.

Organizers noted that this year's COMEUP saw increased international participation, with large delegations from Saudi Arabia and the UAE. 

About 60% of the startups reportedly came from outside of South Korea. A special "Global Community Zone" was set up to accommodate about 100 international startups.

What they said:

Young Lee, Minister of SMEs and Startups, said that

she hopes COMEUP 2023 will create a platform for startups worldwide to exchange ideas on innovations and future trends. She said that the Ministry of SMEs and Startups intends to lead in elevating the status of startups globally.

Jae-wook Park, Chairman of Korea Startup Forum, noted that

COMEUP 2023 has a diverse lineup of startups with innovative technologies that aim to transform various industries globally. He said the event aims to promote interaction within the international startup community and provide practical business and networking opportunities.

What comes next? 

In her welcoming remarks, Minister Lee outlined her vision for creating a "global entrepreneurship ecosystem network."

She noted that there needs to be more interaction between major startup hubs such as Silicon Valley and Europe's Station F in France. South Korea could serve as a global link between these ecosystems.

The plan is to establish South Korea as a hub to connect with startup clusters around the world and to create a digital network so that startups around the world can exchange ideas and collaborate without geographical limitations.

In addition, the South Korean government intends to ease startup and work visa regulations to support borderless entrepreneurship. 

According to the plan, a global fund of $7.6 billion (KRW 10 trillion) will be established by 2024 to facilitate these efforts.

US$1: KRW 1,313.16