50 students of Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) visited GCCEI and Pangyo Techno Valley to see Pangyo IT Cluster and to learn about how Korea supports high tech startups.
Since Norway has relied on their rich natural resources, nowadays they have been trying to foster their IT industry more and trying to strengthen technological capacities. One of the reasons why they chose to come to visit Korea is that they believe Korea has been doing a great job so far in terms of tech-related industry. For the past couple of years, it is well said that Korea has been really concentrating on how to incubate individuals and accelerate startups, and so they would like to know more about entrepreneurship, Korean tech startups and what it is like to work in Korea. They visited GCCEI on Saturday, April 8.
David Sehyeon Baek, Director of Global Cooperation & Marketing, welcomed them. He explained that the survival rate of Korean startups within 10 years is only 8.2%. Many Korean startups have to rely on the government subsidy, which requires too much paperwork and administrative burdens, but the reason why they continue to depend on the government subsidy is that the VCs are not really ‘aggressive enough,’ and the ecosystem for startups is not exactly well-shaped yet. Especially those startups at the early stage have difficulty in getting any investment unless they have sales revenues or tractions. Thus, they have no other choice but to just rely on the government supporting funds.
So he said that it would be absolutely necessary to improve the ecosystem for startups. And also big companies seriously would need to consider the collaboration or M&A with innovative startups. He added that it is not a simple matter whether it should be government-driven or private sector-driven. Many CEOs of the startups argue that it would be almost impossible to get any investment without any sales revenues at the early stage, and so without the government support, actually most of the startups are highly likely to go belly up. If they have to go for the government projects or support, the paperwork should be more efficient.
The students of NTNU said that Norway is on its way to transform itself to the tech country, just like Sweden. Nowadays, in Norway, entrepreneurship and innovative startup acceleration are becoming buzzwords, with a keen interest in IT. Though Korea must have its own obstacles and challenges, they believe that Korea has been doing a great job so far, not daunted by lack of natural resources, rather more focusing on fostering human resources for technology. Often, Norway is dwarfed by Sweden, due to the fact that 7 unicorn startups out of 136 around the world from 2003 to 2014 are actually from Stockholm. Sweden is second only to Silicon Valley in that the value of a startup per 1million people is ranked 2nd, according to the Current Issue & Task, Researcher Cho Ho-Jeong of Hyundai Economy Institute, published on April, 2016.
Nonetheless, Trond Aalberg, Associate Professor of NTNU, said that Oslo is home to ‘nLink,’ ‘Socius,’ ‘Meshcrafts,’ ‘Viva Labs,’ ‘Opera Software,’ and ‘WiMP.’ He said that Oslo is also ready to become a tech-hub for startups and innovation, has huge potential for that.
One of the students, ‘Jie Li,’ said, “NTNU has provided Norway with many excellent engineers and it was very fruitful to see how GCCEI has been doing for startups and how the IT Cluster like Pangyo Techno Valley can be helpful to companies, startups and the Korean economy. The students were overall very satisfied with the visit. Particularly it was greatly useful to know the advantages and disadvantages of doing business as startups in Korea.”