First Korean startup centre in Southeast Asia launched in Singapore

Photo by Alexander Nachev

The K-Startup Centre (KSC) in Singapore, the first Korean startup centre in Southeast Asia, was officially launched on 8 July by South Korea’s Ministry of SMEs and Startups (MSS). It is a reflection of the strong interest among the Korean startups to anchor in Singapore to drive their internationalisation plans despite the uncertainties brought on by COVID-19.

Supported by Enterprise Singapore (ESG), the Singapore KSC will serve as a launchpad for Korean SMEs and startups to plug into Singapore’s and the region’s startup and innovation ecosystem. The KSCs in Sweden and Finland were also launched at the same event.

ESG is also working closely with the Korea Institute of Startup and Entrepreneurship Development (KISED), an affiliate under the MSS, on startup activities that will use the KSC as an operations base to facilitate collaboration between both countries.

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The Singapore KSC is expected to host its first batch of six startups in October 2020 when they travel to Singapore for an eight-week incubation programme focusing on fintech and cybersecurity hosted by NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurial arm of the National University of Singapore (NUS). Close to a third of the 276 applications KISED received for its outbound incubation programmes this year chose Singapore.

In Singapore, participating startups will receive valuable insights into the startup and innovation landscape, and regional markets. With opportunities to meet regional startup ecosystem players from investors to potential clients, participants can finetune their product positioning and go-to-market strategy, as well as making the right connections to succeed in Southeast Asia.

Similarly, Singapore enterprises and investors will benefit through these exchanges, with new market and innovation insights that may be gleaned, and potential partnerships forged in the process.

Mr Tan Soon Kim, Assistant Chief Executive Officer of Enterprise Singapore said, “Amid the COVID-19 situation, the launch of KSC and its inaugural incubation programme help lay the foundation for closer collaboration between Singapore and Korean small enterprises. Singapore’s startup ecosystem will benefit from the dynamic innovation and technology expertise that Korean startups and SMEs are renowned for.”

“The KSC would also be able to plug Singapore SMEs and startups to other entrepreneurs within its network across borders to deepen collaborations with global players,” he continued.

Added Ms Joy Moon, Programme Manager, KISED, “Korean startups are using the pandemic as an opportunity to expand new business models and digital solutions domestically and they are now setting their sights to scale abroad. Korea’s New Southern Policy has been focused on generating opportunities for its businesses in ASEAN.”

“With Singapore’s connectivity, pro-business environment and renowned startup ecosystem, the Singapore KSC and incubation programme will accelerate Korean startups’ efforts to springboard into Asia,” she continued.