Kaist rises as leading incubator for start-ups

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Kaist rises as leading incubator for start-ups

Korea Advanced Institute for Science and Technology (Kaist) is rising as the nation’s cradle for start-ups.

The average annual revenue at start-ups and established companies founded by students, graduates and entrepreneurs sponsored by the school was 20.7 billion won ($18.5 million) last year, triple the size for unrelated start-ups. When compared to non-Kaist companies that have passed their three-year mark, Kaist-related companies earned 37 times more, according to a white paper published recently by the university.

The paper is based on six months of research of 1,112 companies in the school’s database and statistics from related departments. It defines Kaist-born start-ups and enterprises as those created by alumni, current and former professors and sponsored by Kaist’s incubator.

The paper also showed companies originating from Kaist that are 21 or older raked in 25 times more revenue, or 82.1 billion won, than Kaist-born companies that are five years or younger. That indicates the older a company, the better the revenue.

As of the end of 2015, the number of companies founded by its alumni totaled 877, and there were 36 formed by professors. There were 199 companies sponsored by Kaist’s incubator.

The department of electrical engineering gave birth to the largest number of entrepreneurs, 148, followed by the department of mechanical and aerospace engineering with 135. The department of computing ranked third with 114 entrepreneurs.

“It’s true that Kaist-born companies are greatly contributing to job creation and national economics as a key pillar of the era of the fourth industrial revolution,” Shin Sung-chul, president of Kaist, said in a statement, “but the school is still incomparable to Stanford University, which has given birth to 40,000 start-ups and companies that hire 5.4 million staff members.”

The Korean school, often compared to Stanford for its focus on technology and entrepreneurship, runs the Institute for Startup Kaist, a start-up incubator, as well as K-school, a one-year master’s course that teaches the requirements for starting a business in collaboration with 19 departments and is mostly based on team projects.

The school plans to make it mandatory for students to take at least one entrepreneurship class and modify the curriculum to encourage more students to apply for leaves of absence to launch start-ups.

BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun@joongang.co.kr]
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