A magnet for tech giants and start-up incubators

A stone plaque placed along Teheran-ro (Teheran Road).
A stone plaque placed along Teheran-ro (Teheran Road). PHOTO: KIM JINHA

SEOUL • A road in Seoul was renamed Teheran-ro (Teheran Road) to mark the visit of the mayor of Iran's capital city Teheran in 1977, in the midst of a Middle East boom in South Korea.

Today, the 3.7km-long road in Gangnam district has become the country's Silicon Valley, with not just tech giants like Google, Facebook and Amazon as well as venture capitalists setting up base there, but also a high concentration of start-up incubators and accelerators.

Google Campus Seoul is the latest to open there, the first being D.Camp, an incubator which has offered free office space to some 31,500 budding entrepreneurs since it was established in 2013 by South Korea's 20 major banks.

Hyundai's Asan Nanum Foundation has set up its own incubator Maru180, while South Korea's largest search portal Naver launched D2 Startup Factory. Teheran-ro is also home to more than 20 start-up accelerators, like SparkLabs, which offers seed funding of US$25,000 (S$33,700) to individual start-ups.

Startup Alliance, a joint effort between the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, and private IT companies Naver, Daum Kakao and SK Planet, connects start-ups to investors and helps them to go global.

Its managing director Lim Jung Wook said: "We are determined to make Teheran-ro the epicentre of the Korean start-up ecosystem."

Chang May Choon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2015, with the headline 'A magnet for tech giants and start-up incubators'. Print Edition | Subscribe