South Korea opens three more start-up centres, including in S'pore

South Korea's Minister for SMEs and Start-ups Park Young-sun (centre) at the launch of three K-Startup Centres located in Singapore, Sweden and Finland during a ceremony in Seoul on Wednesday. Ms Park is joined by representatives from the host countries,
South Korea's Minister for SMEs and Start-ups Park Young-sun (centre) at the launch of three K-Startup Centres located in Singapore, Sweden and Finland during a ceremony in Seoul on Wednesday. Ms Park is joined by representatives from the host countries, including Singapore Ambassador to South Korea Eric Teo (third from left). PHOTO: ENTERPRISE SINGAPORE

SEOUL • South Korea is set to push 92 start-ups onto the global stage this year with the launch of three more K-Startup Centres this week.

The new locations - in Singapore, Stockholm in Sweden and Helsinki in Finland - bring the total number of centres to six, with the others in Seattle, Tel Aviv and New Delhi.

The first centres opened last year and provide a global platform for South Korean start-ups to settle into their host countries and connect with the local ecosystem.

They also provide shared office space, help match firms with investors and local partners, and offer funding of up to 80 million won (S$93,000) to help them scale up.

A total of 279 companies have applied to join the six centres this year, the country's Ministry of SMEs and Start-ups (MSS) noted.

The centre in Sweden will specialise in artificial intelligence and gaming, while the Finnish one aims to focus on digital health.

Singapore's centre will focus on fintech and cyber security.

Blockchain and retail are addressed in Seattle, the Israeli one specialises in education, agriculture and social tech, with IT services and electric cars on the agenda in New Delhi.

MSS Minister Park Young-sun said K-Startup Centres will provide "full support" to promising South Korean firms and help them plug into the global start-up network.

South Korean e-commerce company Five Jack aims to expand beyond its base in Jakarta through the K-Startup Centre in Singapore.

Chief technology officer Doh Jae-youn told The Straits Times that its website Itemku achieved transactions worth US$2.7 million (S$3.8 million) in May, mainly selling gaming goods and in-app currency. It has one million active users, he said.

"We hope to be able to achieve US$1 million worth of annual transactions in Singapore, as well as in Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines, and become the top company in South-east Asia," Mr Doh added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 11, 2020, with the headline 'South Korea opens three more start-up centres, including in S'pore'. Subscribe