Naver chips in to fund R&D by smaller firms

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Naver chips in to fund R&D by smaller firms

The nation’s largest Internet portal Naver is creating a technology research and development fund worth 10 billion won ($9.8 million) by 2016 in cooperation with the state-run Small and Medium Business Administration, or SMBA.

Each side will contribute 5 billion won to support local software and online business ventures. The two sides signed a memorandum of understanding in January. Naver is currently helping one-person businesses and traditional markets with online promotions.

“Through the fund, Naver will keep making an effort toward shared growth between large and small companies by supporting small and midsize companies in online services and online retail,” said Kim Sang-hun, CEO of NHN, the mother company of Naver.

Naver will not be randomly handing out money from the fund to any start-up company. In fact, the web portal will announce lists of technologies that it needs. Smaller start-ups with such technologies in development or with plans to develop them can apply for support. Then. Naver will decide how much will be allocated to each company.

According to SMBA, such co-funded programs with private companies were first introduced in 2009.

Since then, 40 major companies have participated in creating funds worth 565 billion won ($552.7 million). The projects that were funded were able to commercialize some technologies starting this year.

The investment fund was not limited to IT companies but was offered to other industries including electricity, steel and shipbuilding, where some smaller companies have become suppliers to conglomerates.

Through such government-private sector investment funds, Samsung Electro-Mechanics now receives supplies of small smartphone parts and batteries from a small-business partner.

BY kim ji-yoon []

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