Celebrating the 70th anniversary of the launch of South Korea’s state-run Public Procurement Service, the organization has placed special emphasis on creating a variety of opportunities for domestic companies, particularly the smaller venture firms and startups, to step up exports with innovative technologies.
In an interview with The Korea Herald, PPS Administrator Jung Moo-kyung said his drive for innovative merging of technologies and active support from the organization on the occasion of the 20th Korea Public Procurement Expo, or Koppex, will bring great opportunities for small businesses.
With some 440 companies expected to attend the exposition, which runs Wednesday through Friday at Kintex in Goyang City, and with invitations sent to 97 overseas buyers from 30 countries, this year’s Koppex will be the largest public procurement fair held in Korea.
A new Innovation Growth Hall
Innovative growth is one of the terms that will receive the greatest emphasis at this year’s Koppex, and a new Innovation Growth Hall will be dedicated for new and innovative tech procurements, Jung said.
Besides Venture Nara Hall -- reserved for registered companies that have previously participated in Koppex -- the new Innovation Growth Hall will promote innovative procurement products registered through Konep, an online procurement system operated by PPS.
The hall will consist of products from eight leading Konep-registered businesses that are working on technologies crucial for the “fourth industrial revolution,” Jung said. These include drones, VR, 3D printers and autonomous vehicles, among many, many more.
As for Venture Nara Hall, there will be products such as IoT smart outlets and laser blood lancets, used for blood sampling.
One of the many initiatives Jung has been emphasizing since he started his position four months ago was to ease the registration criteria for early startups and venture companies that hold innovative products but find it difficult to enter the procurement market.
Since 2015, PPS established Venture Nara, an online mall for early startups and venture companies to promote and distribute their products.
It is seen as a gateway for small businesses to enter the procurement market.
Still, companies with lackluster performance in sales face difficulty entering as well as those that lack the appropriate management status.
“For those companies facing difficulties, we will try to ease the registration (criteria) for Venture Nara by operating a form of open market where small businesses can freely register and sell products for a limited period of time.”
Innovative growth is important in technologies of the fourth industrial revolution, and Jung said he hopes Koppex can be a platform for small businesses to flourish.
The Innovative Growth Hall will be placed at the most visible part of the expo to attract buyers and visitors, as a way to encourage visitors to stop by this newly created hall. Medium for foreign market entry
Another focus of Koppex this year is to aid domestic companies that wish to enter foreign markets, Jung said.
At the exhibition, PPS will not only provide space for 251 venture companies to have the opportunity to hold one-on-one business meetings with some 97 overseas buyers, but once agreement is reached among the parties, there will be a signing ceremony and a memorandum of understanding will be inked between overseas buyers and domestic companies.
“For this year in particular, there will be an increase in the number of high-quality buyers from ASEAN countries,” Jung emphasized.
Also, a workshop on “Procurement to support innovative growth” will be available for representatives of domestic companies as well as seven international organizations such as the WTO, the OECD and the International Trade Center to name just a few. Furthermore, 75 procurement agencies from 25 countries will be represented at the workshop.
Considering that the domestic procurement market is highly saturated, with small and medium-sized enterprises taking up 80 percent, Jung said PPS strives to fulfill the role of a mediator for promising companies that intend to enter the overseas procurement market.
“Currently, the overseas procurement market is estimated at $9.5 trillion, taking up 12 percent of the global GDP. But South Korea’s market share stands at a mere 0.19 percent,” Jung explained.
“PPS has been actively encouraging South Korean companies to enter the overseas market.”
Besides holding annual expos, since 2013 PPS has also provided a procurement export support program known as G-Pass, which stands for Government Performance Assured companies.
Promising companies that have proven their quality as well as their technological capabilities are issued G-Pass certification, and this provides opportunities such as participation in overseas procurement expos, as well as consultations and information on the global procurement market.
“The performance of G-Pass-certified companies is increasing each year, with some $730 million in exports for 2018. Our target is to reach $800 million this year,” said Jung.A landmark year, full of anniversaries
Besides booths installed for companies to display their products, there will also be special events commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Public Procurement Service, as well as the 20th Koppex.
A memorial exhibition hall will be installed for displays of photographs and records showing the history of the PPS over the last 70 years and its landmark events, as well as a photo zone consisting of a sculpture made to commemorate the 70th anniversary of PPS.
“We will also hold a quiz event on the history of the Public Procurement Service, and a stamp tour for every exhibition corner, both with prizes included,” the administrator said.
Koppex will be held at the Kintex exhibition hall in Ilsan, Gyeonggi Province, from Wednesday to Friday.
Jung worked at the Ministry of Strategy and Finance for some 30 years before being appointed as PPS administrator.
By Cho Hyee Su and Lee Kwon-hyung