Pangyo Techno Valley is South Korea’s answer to California’s Silicon Valley. It’s where the newest technology is studied, tested, incubated, and finally released into the world. The newest addition to this valley of innovation is the Gyeonggi Center for Creative Economy and Innovation, also known as the Gyeonggi Innovation Center. The young complex opened only this past March, but it’s already supporting 34 startups and actively promoting their entrance into global business networks.
South Korea clearly believes that tech startups are the future, because the country as a whole is currently supporting a total of 530 fledgling businesses this year. Gyeonggi Innovation Center is harboring 34 of them, and is encouraging them to flourish by providing startup capital, education and mentoring, office space and access to state-of-the-art technology via its 3D printing rooms and IoT labs.
“We will focus on helping entrepreneurs get through the first one to three years of business operation by assisting them with setting up marketing channels, going overseas, and attracting investment,” said Lim Deok-Rae, Gyeonoggi Innovation Center CEO and General Manager.
For any business venture, networking is key, particularly on a global level. The Gyeonoggi Innovation Center, along with South Korea’s 17 other innovation centers, is supported by G-Alliance, an organization dedicated to the creation of a network of overseas startup support agencies, investors, and global businesses. This network has facilitated contracts with accelerators such as France’s Orange Fab and venture capital firms like San Franciso-based Formation 8. Recently, Gyeonoggi Innovation Center supported the participation of five startups in the K-Tech Silicon Valley 2015 conference and business expo, which, among its other events, includes a startup pitch competition.
“I expect that the Gyeonggi Center for a Creative Economy & Innovation…will play the role of a ‘bridge of harmony and conversion’ by connecting innovation centers across the country, different industries, large conglomerates, SMEs, and, furthermore, Korea and the world,” said South Korean President Park Geun-hye at the center’s opening ceremony on March 30.
Besides networking and financial support, access to technology is critical for a young business to succeed. The center definitely didn’t scrimp on its tech labs – the 3D printing laboratory includes five printers costing up to ₩100 million, which any startup can use for free as long as they pay for their printing materials.
Already, some incredible technology has come out of the Gyeonggi Innovation Center. Startups supported by the center include Anyractive, which provides technology that allows you to turn any TV, smartphone or other screen device into a mobile chalkboard or white board, and IRIENCE, which provides security solutions based on iris scans. The latter was recently selected to participate in an eight-week startup incubating program facilitated by Korea Innovation Center, a Silicon Valley-based organization that makes creating technological and entrepreneurial partnerships between Korea and the United States a major part of its mission.
South Korea has been all over tech news sites lately, with companies making major inroads into cutting-edge technology such as bioprinting and nanotechnology. With so many tech startups flaring to life thanks to the support of organizations like the Gyeonggi Innovation Center, it’s a pretty sure bet the country will stay in the news for the foreseeable future.