The South Korean government on Friday opened its 13th creative economy center on Jejudo Island, with aims to transform the southernmost resort island into an IT and tourism accelerator.
A 156.9 billion won ($140 million) fund will also be set up to support related projects, including nurturing start-ups and venture firms, through the Jeju Center for Creative Economy and Innovation.
Daum Kakao, the Korean search giant headquartered on the island, will help create collaborative working space for tech start-ups and aid their global expansion.
AmorePacific, the nation’s largest cosmetics company, will build the second creative economy center by 2017 to foster the island’s beauty industry and support R&D activities.
President Park Geun-hye talks with participants during the launch of the Jeju Center for Creative Economy and Innovation on Friday. Jeju Gov. Won Hee-ryong (left, standing), Daum Kakao chairman Kim Bum-soo (center, standing) and AmorePacific chairman Suh Kyung-bae (third from left, standing) attended the opening ceremony. (Yonhap)
“The Jeju center will play a leading role in connecting and converging cultural and software innovations not just in Korea but also in East Asia,” President Park Geun-hye said in her congratulatory speech at the opening ceremony.
Jejudo has long been one of the most favored tourist destinations in Korea and more recently a growing number of people are flocking to the island not just for tourism but also for business.
A total of 18 tech companies, including the largest Daum Kakao, have relocated their headquarters to the island in recent years, generating 1.4 trillion won in sales and 1,345 jobs, according to latest data.
Based on the island’s abundant business infrastructure and inspirational scenery, the Jeju center aims to lure more young entrepreneurs to the island, mimicking California’s Silicon Beach and Hubud in Bali.
Silicon Beach, located in Westside, Los Angeles, is home to some 500 start-ups as well as major companies like Google and Yahoo. Hubud is an exotic shared working space on the resort island for local and visiting tech and creative firms.
The Jeju center provides permanent start-ups with working and residential space and testing labs for their new products and services. Daum Kakao will offer consultations for their business expansion and run exchange programs with foreign firms based on its global business network.
Foreign companies are also expected to join the center. They include: Hubud; Chinese IT giant Tencent; Japanese start-up accelerator Global Brain; Vietnamese game platform developer Appota; and Malaysian online payments system developer MOLD global.
AmorePacific, which is increasingly expanding its presence in global markets, will pour 100 billion won into the second creative economy center and develop beauty-tourism programs on the island.
The new facility will be located within a large-scale green tea production field the company has run since the 1970s. Based on its production and R&D know-how, the company also launched the Innisfree brand using green tea ingredients in 2000.
As part of the plan, the company will create “Green Beauty Valley,” a tourist town like popular European wineries that combine a luxurious spa and tourism programs.
The company also plans to make investments for beauty start-ups and environment preservation on the island.
The Jeju center will also ramp up efforts to streamline tourist programs amid the soaring number of visitors. The local government will continue to make an eco-friendly push on electric vehicles and renewable energy technologies.
By Lee Ji-yoon (firstname.lastname@example.org)