Time for K-Startups
Lately, governments around the world are presenting policies to vitalize start-up businesses. In China, Premier Li Keqiang is leading public start-ups, and U.S. President Barack Obama proposed the Startup America Initiative. The Korean government has also been making multidirectional efforts to build a start-up ecosystem, and last year, more than 80,000 new corporations were registered. The investment on ventures is likely to be the biggest ever, breaking the record of the first venture boom in 2000.
However, in order for Korea to become a true start-up nation, there are many areas to be reformed. In addition to concerns like the shortage of angel investors and M&As, there are general problems with planning, execution and information sharing, with more than 100 start-up support programs under the central government. In fact, entrepreneurs with whom I have met have pleaded small yet various challenges in the course of getting information, registering and selecting, and agreement and completing support programs.
Government support programs are an important starting point for entrepreneurs, and therefore, there should be a program for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs and of entrepreneurs. On Oct. 14, the government announced a plan to form more efficient start-up support, reflecting concerns that entrepreneurs have raised.
First, the start-up support programs under various ministries have been integrated under a brand “K-Startup,” reducing 99 programs down to 72. From January 2016, the K-Startup website, www.k-startup.go.kr, will provide most information on start-up support programs.
Second, the procedural burdens related to participation in government projects will be simplified to accommodate entrepreneurs who don’t have sufficient manpower and resources. Forms will be unified, and required documents will be simplified. Not just Hangul program documents, but also PowerPoint, Microsoft Word and PDF documents will be accepted. In order to enhance expertise in evaluation, more businessmen, venture capitalists and angel investors will get involved in the evaluation process. Moreover, limits on the funds for each topic will be removed, giving more autonomy in the execution of project funds.
Third, the government’s start-up support will not be a one-time project and will continue to strengthen relationships among programs to provide continued assistance. The 17 Creative Economy Centers around the country will be the bases for one-stop service of cooperation for enhanced synergy.
Acknowledging the limits of employment expansion by conglomerates and public agencies, our alternative is to help small start-ups become big successes and encourage them to create more related jobs and opportunities. The plan for efficient start-up support programs is the beginning of positive changes, and more entrepreneurs should participate in the process.