SINGAPORE – South-east Asia’s first Korean start-up centre set up in Singapore will receive its inaugural batch of six enterprises in October for an eight-week incubation programme, Enterprise Singapore (ESG) said on Wednesday (July 8).
The K-Startup Centre’s first incubation programme will focus on fintech and cyber security. It will be hosted by NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurial arm of the National University of Singapore (NUS).
The centre, officially launched in Seoul on Wednesday by South Korea’s Ministry of SMEs and Startups (MSS), will serve as a launchpad for Korean small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups to plug into the start-up and innovation ecosystem in Singapore and the region.
Supported by ESG, the centre will also catalyse opportunities for Korean start-ups to co-develop and commercialise solutions with Singapore enterprises.
In a video message on Wednesday, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said the launch of the K-Startup Centre during this period “gives us confidence that we can continue to make progress in our economic cooperation despite Covid-19”.
He added that the centre will facilitate mutually beneficial partnerships. Korean enterprises can benefit from access to mentors, innovation networks, and physical space to grow, while Singaporean firms can also tap this platform to partner Korean counterparts in creating innovative solutions and to scale up, he said.
ESG said the launch reflects the strong interest among Korean start-ups to anchor in Singapore to drive their internationalisation plans despite the uncertainties brought on by Covid-19. It noted that close to a third of the 276 applications received by the Korea Institute of Startup and Entrepreneurship Development (KISED) for its outbound incubation programmes this year chose to come to Singapore.
ESG is also working closely with KISED, an MSS affiliate, on start-up activities that will use the K-Startup Centre as an operations base to facilitate collaboration between both countries.
ESG assistant CEO Tan Soon Kim said Singapore’s start-up ecosystem will benefit from the dynamic innovation and technology expertise that Korean start-ups and SMEs are renowned for.
Ms Joy Moon, KISED programme manager, said Korean start-ups are using the pandemic as an opportunity to expand new business models and digital solutions at home, and scale abroad. She said that with Singapore’s connectivity, pro-business environment and renowned start-up ecosystem, the new centre will accelerate their efforts to springboard into Asia.
A Korean start-up centre here was first mooted during South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s visit to Singapore in July 2018. Similar centres in Sweden and Finland were also launched at the same event on Wednesday.