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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Seoul bets big to become global ‘Top 5’ startup city

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A representation of the Seoul Unicorn Startup Hub in Seongsu-dong, central Seoul. The image was created by Midjourney, an artificial intelligence program. [SEOUL METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT]
A representation of the Seoul Unicorn Startup Hub in Seongsu-dong, central Seoul. The image was created by Midjourney, an artificial intelligence program. [SEOUL METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT]

The Seoul Metropolitan Government pledged to allocate over 1.6 trillion won (1.2 billion) by 2030 to bolster the city’s startup ecosystem and create more jobs for the youth.

Some key pillars of the so-called Seoul Startup Policy 2030 include a new building to house nearly 1,000 startups and a “robot cluster” aimed at nurturing budding robotics companies.

In a press briefing at City Hall on Wednesday, Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon said the goal was to turn the Korean capital into one of the world’s top five “startup cities” within the next seven years, in part by fostering at least 50 globally recognized unicorn companies.

A unicorn company refers to a privately held startup with a valuation of over $1 billion.

The city government highlighted the challenging situation faced by numerous innovative startups amid the global economic downturn, emphasizing now is a crucial period to strategically invest in and comprehensively support new entrepreneurs.

As part of those efforts, the city government said it will build what it called the Seoul Unicorn Startup Hub in Seongsu-dong, central Seoul, next to Seoul Forest.

Some 1,000 startups will be able to open offices in the new Seongsu building. The city said it would create a dedicated fund of 100 billion won to support resident startups and directly invest in them.

By 2026, a robot cluster will come to Suseo-dong in Gangnam District, southern Seoul, which will also include a robot theme park and science museum for the public.

A robot academy will be established in the cluster as well, training some 700 talents by 2026 and 2,000 by 2030.

To help startups doing business overseas, the Seoul city government said it plans to open two more startup support offices abroad this year and possibly 16 more going forward.

Seoul currently has such offices in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam and Bengaluru in India. An office in Spain will open in October and another will open in Singapore. More offices could open in the Americas, Europe and the Middle East, said Seoul.

To help young job seekers find jobs, Oh said the city was planning to establish a so-called Seoul Software Academy in each of the capital’s districts by 2025 and link some 1,500 software developers with startups every year. By 2030, Oh said his goal was to link 10,000 job seekers with startups.

“The startup policy serves as both an industrial policy and a job creation policy,” Oh said in Wednesday’s briefing. “It’s a strategic initiative to foster future growth and opportunities for Seoul.”

BY SUNG-EUN LEE [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]