Startups from all around the world look to enter the Korean market before entering other Asian markets. Some of the reasons for this are the high mobile usage among Korean consumers as well as the presence of global corporations like Samsung and Hyundai. Therefore it is a great testbed for tech startups to determine if they should enter Asia as a whole. German Accelerator has launched Next Step in South Korea, a market discovery program to help German startups validate the suitability of their business in the South Korean market.

While the world puts a lot of focus on the Chinese market, South Korea has shown to be a proven launching pad to reach not only the Chinese market but also the Japanese market. Furthermore, the South Korean government has shown a lot of support to bolster support for global startups looking to enter South Korea to showcase their innovative technologies. The South Korean government has been building up the startup ecosystem in Korea for over a decade within and around Seoul. They understand that startups are the key to not only generating employment but also driving innovation. According to Forbes, South Korea has the biggest government backing of startups per capita. Conglomerates in Korea like Samsung are also looking to invest in startups by way of either mergers or partnerships.

Why German startups Should Enter South Korea

Next Step in South KoreaThe Korean government wants to make South Korea one of the top startup hubs in the world. In order to do this, they need to bring in startups from around the world. While South Korea has one of the best tech infrastructures in the world, this could be a problem as it leads to many Korean startups only focusing on the Korean market. Helping Korean startups go global has been something the Korean government has been working on for years. Bringing in and supporting global startups in Korea has been a huge benefit for Korean startups as they are able to network with entrepreneurs they would have never been able to meet. German startups can take advantage of all this support and really test their products or services in a developed country.

Seoul in particular is a perfect testbed for German tech startups. Seoul is densely populated (25 million), therefore mass adoption tends to happen quickly. The latest tech trend can easily spread within a matter of weeks. In addition, South Korea is becoming a more cashless society. South Korea has the maximum credit card perforation in the world. The average Korean consumer has 5 credit cards and only 20% of transactions are paid in cash. As far as online shopping goes, in 2019, a study found that 97% of Koreans in their 20s had shopped online. This is why South Korea has become such an attractive destination for foreign tech startups.

South Korea Embraces the 4th Industrial Revolution

Korean consumers embrace new technology and are always on the lookout for the latest tech trends. This is the reason why Blockchain and especially bitcoin in Korea was huge in 2017-2018. South Korea has the world’s 9th and Asia’s 3rd largest medical devices market. They are constantly researching and developing innovative solutions in the healthcare industry. A great example was how South Korea was able to use technology to flatten the curve of the coronavirus.

If you travel a bit south you will find South Korea’s smart city in Songdo. It is called Songdo IBD and it is focused on incorporating as much technology into the city. For example, you can find computers in buildings and apartments so residents can do quick video conference calls with their neighbors. Students can attend classes remotely from their homes through these built-in computers. Lights, heating systems, air conditioning, and more can be controlled from a single panel on a wall. On public streets, sensors are able to gather information and data on traffic flow as well as energy usage. Cities are not alone when it comes to incorporating technology. Factories in South Korea are becoming Smart Factories as the government has incentivized these companies to do so. It is estimated that South Korea will build 30,000 smart factories by 2022.

Next Step in South Korea

Next Step in South KoreaSo what can German startups expect from the Next Step in South Korea program? The program will help German startups get a full understanding of the Korean ecosystem. They will be able to learn from Korean startups as well as global startups that have already entered South Korea. They will share their market entry strategies and success stories. Knowing the insights into doing business in South Korea will be crucial before coming up with the right strategy. It is vital to get a deep understanding of not only how to set up a business in terms of legal requirements and doing taxes in Korea but also understanding the cultural aspect of Korea. Local insiders will give deep insights into not only how to approach corporates but also how to meet potential clients, advisors, and VCs in Korea.

Next Step’s Snapshot Report provides comprehensive insights, top tips, and opportunities for startups looking to expand their business to South Korea.

A Great Opportunity for Corporate Companies in South Korea

Next Step in South Korea offers corporate companies in South Korea the opportunity to learn about the technologies and solutions from German startups. Corporate companies will not have to travel to German to learn about all the innovative technologies startups are developing. Instead, they will be able to learn directly from German startups that are interested to learn more about the South Korean market.

Company Matching for Next Step

company matchingNext Step’s Company Matching meetings between the selected German startups and South Korean companies will help startups understand what the Korean companies need. As well as introduce their product or services. Then they will be able to see if there is an opportunity to explore a potential partnership to collaborate with the startup if the startup’s service, product, or technology is a good match.

How the Company Matching meeting will work:

Step 1: Corporates interested to meet with the selected German startups may register.

Step 2: Corporates selected to participate in the Company Matching meeting, will receive a link to book their preferred time slots for their meetings with the German startups. The startups’ calendars will only be open for booking from the 11th to the 17th of September. A maximum of 4 corporates per startup will be matched.

Step 3: Corporates will meet with startups virtually via Zoom for 1 hour, between the 21st of September to the 2nd of October. The companies will introduce their businesses to each other and use this time to explore potential business opportunities.

*Please note that due to limitations of the program schedule, Next Step Asia may have to turn down companies who have expressed interest if there is an overwhelming response.

Meet the German Startups of the Next Step in the South Korea Program

German Startups in KoreaJoin the virtual event, “Pitch Night: German Startups Meet South Korea” on September 25th to meet the best-in-class startups as they introduce their companies to South Korea’s ecosystem for the first time.

Companies that you’ll hear from:

Actyx – (Smart Manufacturing Software)

Actyx offers a new developer infrastructure to rapidly build digital shop-floor solutions. At the core of its offering is the decentralized edge-computing platform ActyxOS, which provides high reliability, flexibility, and scalability whilst providing the best experience through integrated dev tools to developers to rapidly build digital shop-floor solutions. The platform is the basis for a wide range of value-creating solutions such as worker assistance apps on mobile devices, decentralized autonomous transport vehicles, or modular production cells. It’s the modern way of digitizing factory processes. Therefore you can build and run apps on a secure, performant decentralized edge platform. No servers, no brokers, no data center. It doesn’t get more robust or more simple.

Next Step in South Korea

Potential corporate partners: Manufacturing companies such as Samsung, LG Corporation, Doosan Infracore, Hana Micron, SK Hynix, Pulse Electronics, and IT service providers from the manufacturing sector such as POSCO ICT, and system integrators from the Automation sector.

HRForecast (HR Software)

HRForecastHRForecast answers today’s and tomorrow’s questions of Human Resources managers by utilizing the power of data. Its mission is to help companies bridge business strategy and workforce requirements to build long-lasting and trustful relationships. Their vision is to provide Smart work for a better world – create organizations, where people can develop themselves. In the age of rapid technological development, companies are overwhelmed with changes and opportunities that are required to stay competitive in the market. HRForecast solves your challenges with its apps, consulting services, and market intelligence data and lets you connect smart decisions to better business outcomes.

HR ForecastPotential corporate partners: Companies with more than 500 employees, and educational governmental bodies responsible for up-skilling and reskilling.

Infrasolid (Smart Manufacturing Hardware) 

InfrasolidInfrasolid develops and manufactures high-performance infrared radiation sources for use in NDIR gas analysis and IR spectroscopy. Typical applications are in the fields of environmental protection, exhaust gas measurement, explosion, and fire protection, building services engineering, and medical technology. Infrasolid’s emitters are small, powerful infrared radiation sources that meet the demands for reliable miniaturized gas sensors and offer a wide range of new application scenarios. In addition, the low energy consumption, the high efficiency, and the small size allow the use in portable, battery-powered, and mobile applications.

InfrasolidPotential corporate partners: Manufacturers of smartphones, smart wearables, and companies from the consumer electronics industry.

iVE.ONE (FinTech, Blockchain)

Next Step in South KoreaiVE.ONE by Agora Innovation is a global service provider for creating compliant digital securities. They also offer a marketplace for alternative assets investors looking to diversify their portfolio. Headquartered in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, founders Phong Dao, Evgeny Matershev, and Robert Malec developed the blockchain-based platform iVE.ONE. The platform enables companies to raise capital for projects in various fields in a secure and cost-effective environment. Companies can digitize their illiquid assets into a digital unit (token) and they can put it on the iVE.ONE platform where it will be available to investors. In addition, people will be able to invest in digital assets on iVE.ONE in a quick and simple way. Therefore, the core vision of Agora Innovation is to build an eco-system that provides better digital assets for everyone.

iVE.ONEPotential corporate partners: Financial institutions (banks or asset management) such as KB Financial Group, Shinhan Financial Group, Woori Financial Group, NH Nonghyup Bank, Kookmin Bank, and companies that are keen on digital assets and Security Token Offering.

Wingcopter (Logistics) 

WingcopterWingcopter is a leading German drone company that creates technologies to save and improve lives. Their vision is to create a better tomorrow for everyone by building the future of aviation. Wingcopter’s transport drones, developed for humanitarian and civil applications, have been used in projects delivering medicines, vaccines, blood, and lab samples over long distances to areas that are hard to reach. Wingcopter has been engaged in numerous drone delivery projects from commercial, long-range factory-to-factory deliveries in Germany to life-saving humanitarian projects and emergency medical supplies in various countries around the world. In addition, Wingcopter is also using its unmanned technology to support COVID-19 responses.

Wingcopter Next Step in South KoreaPotential corporate partners: Corporates in logistics and distribution sectors, e-commerce, and disaster prevention public initiatives and organizations.

Want to Join the Next Step in South Korea Program?

German startups interested in joining the Next Step in South Korea Program for 2021 must have the following requirements:

Must be a Germany-registered startup* from any sector or industry with:

  • Traction in the German market
  • And interest in the Asian market

*The program is also open to German VCs and incubators.

How much does it cost?

As the program is supported by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), participation fees are subsidized and kept low to cover operational expenses. The program costs 750EUR per individual (covers both the virtual program and the local immersion). It does not include travel and accommodation costs, which have to be covered by participating companies.