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Seoul offers free incubation programs for foreign startups

Seoul city will offer free office space and incubation programs to startups run by foreign residents, the city said Tuesday.

The program is run by Seoul Metropolitan Government’s Seoul Global Center and the Seoul Business Agency.

Seoul Global Center
Seoul Global Center

Launched in 2010, the city’s support program for foreign startup groups has been provided to a total of 160 teams as part of measures to promote local industry. This year, 16 teams -- 13 in the Jongno center and three in the Gangnam center of the Seoul Global Center -- are under the program.

The center accepts applications until June 4, the city said,

Among the recipient startups, trade businesses are the largest in number, accounting for 35.3 percent (59 teams), followed by consulting businesses (14.4 percent). Other types of startups of the program include service, information technology, education and manufacturing sectors, according to the city’s data.

By nationality, the US forms the largest group with 51 teams (30.4 percent), followed by China with 27 teams and Canada with nine teams. Others are from a total of 33 countries including Germany, France, Japan, Uzbekistan, Australia and the United Kingdom who have been supported by the startup program.

The Seoul Global Center runs the program twice a year for foreign residents who are preparing, or have launched startups for six months.

Once selected, startup groups are allowed to extend their stay once for another six months, depending on the performance evaluation of the first five months. In addition to the provision of offices, the center provides them business coaching, one-on-one mentoring, and special lectures, according to the city.

Beside the incubation program, the Seoul Global Center also offers free business consultation on how to start a business in Seoul, on taxation, legal affairs, foreign direct investment, customs and intellectual property rights.

To improve business capabilities of foreign startups here, the selected teams will be participating startup educational programs like “biz-matching” and “biz-fare” that are designed to promote the entrepreneurship among foreigners living in Seoul, the city added.

By Bak Se-hwan (