Korea to Become the Hub of Startups

By StartUp City | Friday, February 05, 2021

San Francisco-based research and policy advice company Startup Genome's 2020 Global Startup Ecosystem Report ranked South Korean capital 20th overall, with an ecosystem estimated at US$39 billion, nearly four times the global average. It was the first time the city had cracked the top 20.

Fremont, CA: Seoul could be the next global startup hotspot in the post-Covid 19 era? For a city once known as the capital of a land of stern-faced economic warriors, working away for gigantic, metal-bashing conglomerates it may seem like a stretch.

But Seoul and South Korea are evolving, too. Now the idea isn't as far-fetched as it may seem.

San Francisco-based research and policy advice company Startup Genome's 2020 Global Startup Ecosystem Report ranked South Korean capital 20th overall, with an ecosystem estimated at US$39 billion, nearly four times the global average. It was the first time the city had cracked the top 20.

Another big ranking company, Israel's Startupblink, ranked City 21st overall in 2020, up nine spots from the previous year.

According to the global research firm CB Insights, South Korea is now home to 11 unicorns – companies worth more than $1 billion. This is the fifth largest flock in the world.

See Also: Top Tech Startups

Most of these horned beasts are headquartered in Seoul. And if Seoul's urban policymakers have their way, the bustling metropolis of 11 million people will soon challenge Silicon Valley, New York, Boston, Seattle, and Tel Aviv as a venture powerhouse.

The city is investing $1.7 billion through 2022 to become one of the top five start-up hubs in the world, seeking to increase the number of unicorns in South Korea to 15 by 2022. The funds are used to train over 10,000 engineering professionals and more than double the number of start-up spaces in the city to 2,200.

City Hall has also recently announced the development of a separate scale-up fund of almost $300 million.

This is all a very big shift for an economy that has been mostly binary since its industrialization in the 1960s, with major business groups at the top and a plethora of mom's pops at the bottom, but nothing much in the centre.

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