With a cool $10 million in its pocket, the Korean Innovation Center (KIC) has big plans for tech startups looking to make a worldwide debut.
The incubator, which has a location in Vienna, Virginia, is a South Korean central government-based business incubator for startups looking to move into the US market. It is currently transitioning into an accelerator program, but generally centers around training Korean startups to be ready for growth and launch in DC. To help, it’s launching a brand-new fund for Korean tech entrepreneurs and members of the diaspora.
Jung Moon, director-general of KIC in DC, said that the goal is to help Korean companies move worldwide.
“The KIC is positioning ourselves and has a mission to help Korean tech startups cross the border from Korea to the United States, and from Korea to different countries with [our] extensive resources,” Moon told Technical.ly.
The KIC, which has been in the area since 2015, has outposts in the DMV, Silicon Valley, Berlin and Beijing. Its so-called Technology Exchange and Transfer accelerating programs primarily center around supporting Korean companies that want to enter the US market and receive funding from US-based investors. It currently has five programs: Tech Frontier, Tech Lean Innovation, Tech Launch, Tech Growth and Tech Beyond. Companies can participate in one or more of the programs based on their current growth stage.
Alongside the programming, the organization is launching a venture capital fund to support its startups and help create a “soft landing” in the US. The funds will be invested directly into KIC’s handpicked startup to help the companies in its fold reach their US goals. KIC has already secured $10 million and is aiming for $25 million at the close.
All startups involved with the KIC will be eligible for the funding, no matter what stage they’re in at the moment, said KIC’s DC director Yong Kim.
“We are also going to have a partnership with the Korean government or other Korean investors in the states, as well as Korea, so that we are able to have a consolidated funding structure — an altogether, collaborating structure,” Kim said.
“This is more like collaborations and integrations, and so that’s why we are able to participate or contribute to the East Coast economy and the regional market,” Moon added.
Alongside the funds, KIC also plans to host a tech summit this fall to help startups connect with each other, investors and the local community. With programs like this, Moon hopes to help the Korean companies that are creating strong technologies but struggle to navigate the East Coast market, the same problem he noticed after spending 20 years in Silicon Valley.
“Between the US and Korea, there is a humongous gap, what we call ‘the chasm,'” Moon said. “The thing is, filling that gap requires a lot of effort and time, but we are accelerating the adaption of Korean entrepreneurs into the local market.”
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