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South Korea's "Startup Korea" Initiative: A Statistical Overview

Photo by Ciaran O'Brien / Unsplash

Sejong, South Korea - The Ministry of SMEs and Startups under the Yoon administration has unveiled a multi-pronged initiative, "Startup Korea," to make South Korea a global startup powerhouse.

Why It Matters:

The South Korean startup ecosystem has been leading the Asian startup ecosystem with its efforts for over 20 years.

This move is significant for investors and global entrepreneurs as it outlines Seoul's commitment to fostering innovation, attracting international talent, and facilitating venture capital investment.

The Key Points

  • Global Outreach: The program aims to integrate South Korea's startup ecosystem with the worldwide marketplace, inspired by models such as the UK's Global Entrepreneur Program.
  • Beyond borders: The Ministry of SMEs and Startups aims to globalize Korea's startup ecosystem through initiatives such as K-Tech College, the K-Scouter program, and facilitating international cooperation by revamping the immigration system. The program aims to remove barriers to skilled talent and entrepreneurs worldwide.
  • Financial Incentives: Approximately KRW 10 trillion (US$ 7.5 billion) in global funds are planned by 2024 to attract foreign investment. The program will establish a Startup Korea Fund with an ultimate target of KRW 2 trillion(US$ 1.5 billion). This fund will diversify financial support by combining investments and loans, moving away from the current focus on subsidies.
  • Regional development: The strategy stimulates regional economies and encourages collaboration between startups and existing companies in emerging industries. The plan outlines a more balanced approach to regional development, targeting areas rich in educational and business infrastructure. It aims to support emerging industries such as artificial intelligence and biotechnology.

The Big Picture

In addition to general strategies, Startup Korea will provide specific support for military personnel, youth, university students, researchers, and experienced entrepreneurs.

The goal is to place at least five South Korean startups globally in CB Insights' Top 100 Unicorns.

Working with other ministries, such as the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of SMEs, and Startups, aims to make South Korea one of the top three startup nations in the world.

With such ambitious goals, global and domestic investors, as well as strategists looking at the Asian market, are expected to monitor the implementation and results of the policy closely.