NATIONAL

Seoul devoted to creating startup-centered city

By Chyung Eun-ju
  • Published : Jun 29, 2018 - 16:15
  • Updated : Jun 29, 2018 - 16:17

Seoul plans to make the city into an innovative startup ecosystem by doubling the number of startup support facilities by 2022 and providing customized support to 1,600 startups per year.

“As of now we are trying to secure more incubating spaces,” said Lim Jai-geun, deputy director of the digital business and startup incubation division at Seoul Start Hub, on Thursday. There are currently 28 incubating spaces.

Seoul Startup Hub, the largest startup incubator in Korea situated in Gongdeok-dong, hosts startups based on their developing stage. Companies with less than seven years of experience are eligible for incubation. 

The co-working space on the first floor of Seoul Startup Hub (Seoul City)

Since it opened in June 2017, the hub has fostered 616 startups, providing them with physical and financial support. The startup incubator achieved sales of 17.6 billion won ($15.8 million) while attracting investment of 14.5 billion won.

Within a year, the incubator has injected innovative energy into the startup scene with its newly renovated annex building, which opened in March 2018. The new building incubates growing startups and Fintech startups, and supports product development. 

A slide is installed from the second to first floors of Seoul Startup Hub. (Seoul City)

Another incubation center, the Seoul Global Startup Center in Yongsan-gu, supports foreign entrepreneurs. Newly selected teams can receive up to 10 million won in funding to develop their businesses. To date, the center has completed two batches of 77 startups that achieved a total of 1.21 billion won of sales in less than two years.

Meanwhile, five minutes away from the Seoul Global Startup Center is a maker space open to everyone, called “Digital Blacksmith.” It provides aspiring entrepreneurs with a space to create prototypes with laser cutters and UV printers. The services are free except for material expenses.

A media room in Seoul Startup Hub allows entrepreneurs to advertise their company or products through a live YouTube channel. (Chyung Eun-ju/The Korea Herald)

3D printers at Digital Blacksmith (Chyung Eun-ju/The Korea Herald)

“Currently, the maker space operates based on public interest rather than profitability,” said Ryan Jang, team leader of the hardware accelerator N15 that supports Digital Blacksmith, at the maker space on Thursday.

The government hopes to make Seoul a hub for startups for local and foreign innovators through the synergy of all the support centers in Seoul. In 2017, Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon said he would create 4,500 jobs annually by creating more support centers.

By Chyung Eun-ju (ejchyung@heraldcorp.com)