June 02, 2020

What to expect from S. Korea’s first startup delegation to Finland

PUBLISHED : June 10, 2019 - 16:31

UPDATED : June 10, 2019 - 16:50

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Expectations are running high as a group of startup entrepreneurs and investors has joined South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s visit to Nordic countries June 9-15 for the first time in history.

The delegation representing 118 business entities landed in Helsinki, Finland, which is well known for its startup-driven innovation, on June 9 (local time) and is scheduled to meet their counterparts there to forge partnerships with regards to mentorship, funding and technology commercialization.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (right, front row) and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto walk through a quadrangle at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland on June 10.

Of the companies participating in the presidential visit, 53 are startups.

Among the startup entrepreneurs are Kim Bong-jin, who leads food delivery unicorn Woowa Brothers, accommodation booking app Yanolja CEO Lee Su-jin, mobility service app VCNC founder Park Jae-wook, real estate technology platform Zigbang CEO Ahn Sung-woo, peer-to-peer lending platform Lendit CEO Kim Sung-joon and roboadviser developer QARASoft CEO Son Bo-mi, according to the Korea Chamber of Commerce & Industry and consultative group Korea Startup Forum.

The presidential delegates will also be joined by representatives of 15 venture capitalists and 10 startup accelerators, as well as those from large companies including Samsung Electronics.

On June 11, the Korean delegation will attend Korea-Finland Startup Summit 2019, involving a hackathon, sessions for startup showcases and investor relations and a networking event.

Pitching at the Korea-Finland Startup Summit will be 10 entrepreneurs from Korea and Finland each, dedicated to technologies related to the 5G network, autonomous ships, biotechnology, artificial intelligence, green computing and online-to-offline platforms.

Also on June 11, aspiring entrepreneurs from both countries will be offered mentorships from seasoned Korean startup entrepreneurs for problem-solving.

Korea Startup Forum plans to sign a memorandum of understanding with Aalto Entrepreneurship Society on June 11.

“All startups are connected with each other in the global ecosystem, as well as with accelerators and venture capital firms,” Jung Mi-na, a spokesperson of Korea Startup Forum, told The Investor. “The event reflects the global market’s growing interest in the startup ecosystem. We hope the startup-strong delegation will help domestic startup ecosystem to be recognized as a newly emerging economic driver in Korea.”

Moon is also scheduled to visit Otaniemi, home to research institutions such as Aalto University, on June 10, and a mentorship session on June 11. 

Moon’s eight-day state visit to the Nordic countries -- Finland, Norway and Sweden -- is also aimed at emboldening cooperation to achieve peace on the Korean Peninsula.

By Son Ji-hyoung (

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