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Korean startups get support from state-led incubation program

The South Korean government has been running the Accelerator Investment-Driven Tech Incubator Program for Startups, or TIPS, with public and private sector partners, to discover and nurture promising startups

Startups under three years old are eligible to apply for the program led by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups. Each selected team is eligible to receive up to 1 billion won ($838,000) in funding, used as seed capital, research and development expenses or marketing fees.

For years, the program has helped propel many startups to the next stage in their business development by providing them with necessary capital and resources needed to bring their products to market and scale up their business.

The following are some of the Korean startups which have used the TIPS program to achieve business milestones in their fields. 

Philophos (medtech)

Philophos is a medical device startup developing a portable retina monitoring device for use inside the home. The system, that is cheaper than existing devices, enables patients to monitor their health at home.

The firm is eyeing business in Finland, a county with a rapidly increasing aging population that needs to economize on medical costs. Its CEO Chung Chung-ho holds expertise in the skin and retina diagnostics medical devices. 

MobilTech (autonomous driving)

MobilTech focuses on developing spatial recognition and 3D scanning and mapping technologies for autonomous driving. Its product lineup includes real-time 3D space scanners and high-precision mapping software.

In addition to support from TIPS, MobilTech has procured investment from big firms including Hyundai Motor and Naver. Now, it is developing a comprehensive autonomous driving software platform for both local and global markets. The firm is led by CEO Kim Jae-seung.

Dabeeo (artificial intelligence)

Dabeeo is a tech startup developing mobile mapping technologies and vision-based spatial recognition software. It has attracted 2 billion won in investment from Mirae Asset and from Naver’s startup fund.

The firm, founded by CEO Park Ju-hum, provides mobile mapping services, mapping API and location-based big data services. It has sealed R&D partnerships with LG Electronics’ robotics division and Airbus, and is looking to expand its presence in Asia and Europe.

AngelsWing (ICT, smart cities)

AngelsWing is a social venture which develops software that creates maps using geographical data collected by drones. It was founded in 2016 to find ways to contribute to society using drone technology.

The software takes drone footage and creates 3D maps for various purposes, be it planning a rescue route for remote disaster-hit villages or remotely guiding construction projects. The startup is led by CEO Park Won-nyeong.

DoBrain (education, games)

DoBrain, founded in 2017, develops educational games for children with developmental disabilities. It has built a mobile app that can diagnose and treat development delays, as well as enhance brain development.

DoBrain CEO Choi Ye-jin has previously worked as a cognitive therapist teaching children with development delays resulting from adverse childhood experiences. Based on her experience, she set out to develop an app to help children’s brain development. 

Bomapp (fintech)

Bomapp is an “insurtech” startup that merges insurance with technology. It has developed an app that provides insurance information and advice to customers so they can better understand their insurance products and in turn increase trust.

Bomapp provides instant information about users’ current insurance accounts, and also lets users pay for their insurance products through the app. The firm was founded by Ryu Joon-woo, who has worked in the insurance business for more than six years. 

Mangoslab (smart printing)

MangoSlab is a technology venture firm spun off from Samsung Electronics’ in-house startup incubator C-Lab. It has built a device that prints 3-by-3-inch sticky notes from smartphones and tablets.

The mini printer, named Nemonic connects via Bluetooth to a connected memo program or mobile app. It uses special thermal paper, thus removing the need for ink or toner. One paper cartridge prints up to 200 sheets. MangoSlab is led by CEO Jeong Yong-soo. 

Backpackr (platform)

Backpackr operates Idus, an online marketplace for handmade goods in Korea. Launched in 2014, the app currently boasts some 1.65 million monthly active users and an 80 percent within-one-month repurchase rate, according to the startup.

It features accessories, handmade crafts and cosmetics as well as homemade snacks, and has emerged as a successful platform connecting individual business owners with customers. Backpackr is led by CEO Kim Dong-hwan. 

JusticeAdventure (ship repair monitoring)

JusticeAdventure, formed under the Korea Maritime and Ocean University, is developing a mobile app called Marine Schedule that enables users to monitor and keep track of cargo ship repair and maintenance procedures in real-time.

The startup is led by CEO Cho Hyun-jae, who has spent more than 18 years working in the ship financing sector. It is targeting business in Germany, the Netherlands, China and Singapore -- the world’s four biggest shipping repair powerhouses.

By Sohn Ji-young and Lee Kwon-hyoung (jys@heraldcorp.com) (kwonhl@heraldcorp.com)
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