Vickers Venture plans to invest in high-tech Korean startups

By Shin Ji-hye

Singapore-based VC in talks with local conglomerates for partnership

  • Published : Nov 11, 2019 - 15:54
  • Updated : Nov 11, 2019 - 22:52

Vickers Venture Partners is looking to invest in promising Korean startups, eyeing the market as a hot spot for innovation, according to a top executive of the Singapore-based firm.

The largest venture capital firm in Southeast Asia, with around $1 billion in assets under management, invests in areas including information technology, real estate, platform and consumer goods. It hosted a networking event last week with seven other Southeast Asian VCs and some Korean startups in Seoul to look for investment opportunities.

“Korea is a major hot spot for innovation,” said Vickers Venture Vice Chairman Jeffrey Chi in an interview with The Korea Herald in Seoul.

‘There is a lot of government spending for basic research and development and lots of conglomerates are investing in innovation. Some of them are world leaders in their respective fields. We cannot ignore Korea,” he said.

The VC’s goal is to find promising Korean tech companies and help them expand overseas. 

Vickers Venture Partners Vice Chairman Jeffrey Chi speaks to The Korea Herald.

“There are many technology developments here that we are excited about. Especially in health care, medical devices, electronic devices and advanced materials. We don’t necessarily see Korea as a large market. We see it as a source of high-tech technology,” he said.

Vickers Venture began to look at Korean startups around six months ago. Now, there are some startups it is looking at seriously and “discussing with them” for future investments.

“We will probably invest in two or three companies over the next 12 months,” he said, declining to divulge details as talks are still on-going.

Vickers Venture typically invests between $5 to 10 million per startup. If it does well, the VC injects tens of millions of dollars more. The firm also plans to set up a regional office here to support local companies.

The biggest challenge is to find startups with a global mindset. “Historically, Korean firms are focused on the local market and do not consider expanding to overseas markets seriously,” Chi said. 

Jeffrey Chi, vice chairman of Vickers Venture Partners, and Kenneth Chew, associate director, have an interview with The Korea Herald. (Shin Ji-hye/The Korea Herald)

The Singaporean firm is also seeking partnerships with Korean conglomerates in terms of co-investing in local startups to help them advance into the global market.

Many large Korean companies, including Samsung, LG, Hyundai, Lotte, SK and Posco, have their own VC units. They also partner with foreign VC firms to expand their business overseas.

Chi said the talks with Korean conglomerates for co-investments has been “good so far,” although he did not disclose more details.

“They have a lot of interest (in co-investing with us). That is for sure. Some of them have a very strong global mindset so they are looking for the right partners and deals to co-invest (in the global market). Our DNA is rooted in Southeast Asia, but our capability goes beyond the region.” 

By Shin Ji-hye (