The Daegu Center for Creative Economy & Innovation (CCEI) is currently acting as a linchpin of the startup ecosystem of Daegu City while the CCEI of North Gyeongsang Province, which is home to a number of industrial complexes, is concentrating on the dissemination of smart factory technology to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). In the same regions, Samsung Electronics is imparting its business and technological know-how and expertise to SMEs and startups in an effective way and the local governments are systemically supporting them to enrich local startup ecosystems.
The Daegu Center’s C-Lab Program, which is a six-month accelerating program for promising startups and venture firms, has been highly beneficial to 35 teams in its first two terms. As of April 2016, a total of 13 teams are being incubated by the program in its third term. Selected C-Lab Program participants can be provided with the Daegu Center’s comprehensive assistance, ranging from business planning to prototype production and technological development, via special lectures given by legal, accounting and patent experts and business and technical mentoring.
The North Gyeongsang Provincial CCEI’s smart factory project is a representative example of the South Korean government’s region-specific Creative Economy Projects. The province including Gumi City used to be the center of the South Korean manufacturing industry in the past but was losing steam due to the overseas relocation of manufacturing facilities and the decrepitude of the remaining ones. The region, however, made a breakthrough in December 2014 with the opening of the provincial CCEI. Together with Samsung Electronics, the center has provided old industrial complexes in the region with various smart factory solutions so that they can enhance their competitiveness. In 2015, the center’s smart factory solutions were provided for 120 sites in the province. The number is expected to increase to at least 1,000 by 2017.
In the meantime, Samsung Electronics is planning to finance 30 billion won via three funds of the government for five years to come. Specifically, the amount is divided into 10 billion won in the R Fund for the renovation of SMEs’ manufacturing facilities in the Gumi Industrial Complex, 10 billion won in the Samsung Strategy Fund for investment in promising SMEs and 10 billion won in the C Fund for assisting in venture firms and small businesses in innovation-oriented sectors. In addition, the provincial CCEI’s Factory Lab, Future Lab and Culture Lab, which are to have a total area of 717 m2, are to house IoT-based automated production lines and manufacturing robots in order to serve as a site of exhibition, training and consulting for the future of manufacturing.
The Samsung Group is actively supporting overseas market penetration by the firms located in the CCEIs, too. For instance, Samsung Venture Investment held IR meetings in China with the Chinese Business Incubation Association and Tsinghua University in August and November 2015. There, most of the participating South Korean firms succeeded in signing international business contracts or obtaining foreign investment.
“We would like to ask startups to not only focus on products and services reflecting their brilliant ideas well but also ponder on if their products and services can create market demands and endure market changes for at least three years or so,” Samsung Electronics says, adding, “During our mentoring, we have seen a number of startups hoping to become successful too soon, but successful business development and satisfactory results take time and each of startups, local and central governments and business incubators would be well advised to move ahead with their projects with patience.”