South Korea Launches Startup Campus in Pangyo

Michael Song, March 22, 2016, 7:41 a.m.


South Korea opened its largest startup complex near Seoul on Tuesday as part of its efforts to boost promising local startups and attract foreign companies. The "startup campus" in Pangyo, just south of Seoul, is designed to nurture more than 200 startups, offering workspace and consulting services for capital funding, according to the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning.

They include the Yozma Group, an Israel-based global venture capital firm, and TEDCO, created by the Maryland State Legislature to support startups. Pangyo -- South Korea's answer to the U.S. Silicon Valley -- is home to many technology companies, including NCsoft Corp., a leading game developer.

"I hope that the startup campus will become a gateway that would link our startups to global markets," President Park Geun-hye said in the facility's opening ceremony. She also said the startup campus should spread South Korea's ecosystem for startups to the world and play a part in attracting foreign investors. The new campus is expected to become a hub for global start-ups and ICT-related businesses, authorities said.

They added that they expect aspiring entrepreneurs to create more than 1,000 startups through the startup campus in the coming decade. Park, meanwhile, said artificial intelligence and the information communication technology sector could be promising areas for startups and technological innovations that can fuel economic growth.

Her comments came amid newfound interest in artificial intelligence in South Korea and other countries following the high-profile tournament between Google's artificial intelligence program AlphaGo and South Korean Go champ Lee Se-dol. AlphaGo, designed by Google's London-based firm DeepMind, beat Lee 4-1 in the five-round Go tournament.

Park asked young South Koreans to create new value and jobs through innovation, instead of competing against each other over existing jobs. She also met several startup heads and offered encouragement. One of the startups showcased an iris recognition device that can be used for payment.

"The government will spare no efforts in providing the necessary assistance to ensure that startups can show off their potential by drastically removing legal or institutional regulations that have been cited for holding back startups," Park said. Still, many South Korean university graduates opt to join Samsung, Hyundai and other big-name conglomerates rather than taking risks and starting their own businesses mainly because failure carries social stigma, and makes it hard for a person to rebound and move on
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