Since Park Geun-hye took office, the buzzword in Korea has been the Creative Economy, which puts emphasis on creating an ecosystem geared to help venture businesses.
So far, the Park administration has tried to foster the growth of venture firms and startups in the framework of her three-year plan. As a result, about 1.4 trillion won (US$1.3 billion) has been invested in the venture economy in 2013, marking the highest-ever amount spent in one year since 2001.
A noteworthy development has been the increasing cooperation between Korea and Silicon Valley in the United States, which the Park Administration has actively supported. The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP) established an ambitious Global Startup Incubating Internship Program (GSIIP), and its first year was successfully completed with the help of Silicon Valley-based Plug and Play Tech Center, a tech startup accelerator.
Plug and Play Tech Center is a company located in Silicon Valley that has accelerated over 1,200 startups since 2006. It invests in technology startup companies and builds a highly-sophisticated value chain of partnerships with its network of 250 corporate partners. Its 160,000 ft2 office has served as a boot camp to companies from 20 countries and 50 universities. Its highly-renowned international division, Plug and Play International, works with international corporations, incubators, venture capital firms and government agencies to promote innovation within their economies and to increase the global success of their startups through investment, incubation, and acceleration.
Plug and Play International is spearheaded by Jupe Tan, and it has drawn a lot of attention this side of the ocean, with interest focused on the number of high-profile activities that have involved accelerating Korean startups.
According to Jupe Tan, in the year 2013 alone over 100 international startups came to Plug & Play and took part in the international accelerator program. Out of that figure, more than 25 were from Korea. As recently as September 2013, Plug and Play International was involved in collaboration with the Korea Internet and Security Agency (KISA) to accelerate a select group of high-tech Korean startup companies.
Plug and Play International has worked with various companies and public organizations including KISA, the National IT Industry Promotion Agency (NIPA), the Korea Institute of Startups & Entrepreneurship Development (KISED), the Small and Medium Business Corporation (SBC), Born2Global, VentureSquare, and beLaunch/beGlobal.
At the time of this writing, Plug and Play International was reportedly in the process of finalizing a second Korean startup investment. Jupe, who makes frequent visits to Korea, is scheduled for another visit in February.
When asked about the Korean market, he said, “We see great potential in the Korean startup ecosystem, and this year we are looking into doing even more with Korean startups and possibly in Korea too.”