Korea’s top three mobile carriers will raise 1.7 trillion won (US$1.44 billion) in the next nine years in a bid to support venture firms and start-ups in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector, such as the Internet of Things, the Cloud, and Big Data.
The Korea Telecommunications Operators Association (KTOA) announced such a plan, while co-hosting the third Korea IT Fund (KIF) launching ceremony with SK Telecom, KT, and LG U+ at the Korea Press Center in Jung-gu, Seoul, on Sept. 22.
KIF is a 300 billion won (US$253.7 million) fund, which is financed by the three mobile carriers in 2002. KTOA has been managing the fund for 13 years. Based on 300 billion won (US$253.7 million) investment, the fund is increasing its capital every year, and has invested a total of 1.2 trillion won (US$1.01 billion) in 522 venture companies in the last 13 years, with additional investments from mobile carriers. Among them, 62 firms have been listed on the KOSDAQ, said KTOA, becoming medium-sized enterprises.
On the same day, KTOA and the three mobile carriers announced that they would launch the third KIF in order to respond to the government’s policy for creative economy activation. The third KIF has decided to extend its operating term by 10 years from the existing 2020 to 2030. Also, the KIF will add 700 billion won (US$592 million) in the next nine years to the existing amount of 1 trillion won (US$845.67 million), to make 1.7 trillion won (US$1.44 billion) in total. Then, it will support the government’s nine K-ICT strategic industries – IoT, Cloud, Big Data, information security, software, UHD and smart devices – and start-ups and venture companies in the converged ICT sector, including fintech.
Moreover, the third KIF has formed specialized funds for start-ups and abolished the reserve system for losses. This is largely due to the fact that it tries to help start-ups in earnest by reorganizing the funds as venture investments, according to the KTOA. The three mobile carriers will strengthen links between their creative economy innovation centers and the funds in a bid to offer foundation funds to firms in the centers.