Posco opens incubator for start-ups, no strings attached
Posco opened an incubator on Wednesday, joining the government-led Tech Incubator Program for Startup scheme.
The country’s largest steelmaker inaugurated the Change Up Ground start-up incubator in Gangnam, southern Seoul, as part of the government program designed to foster the growth of startups.
Operated by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups, the program -- which was started in 2013 -- is Korea’s answer to the U.S. Silicon Valley. It offers four locations in Gangnam. Gangnam District Office offers an incubator of its own.
Posco's will be located in Gangnam as well.
Posco rented a seven-storied building from a private company and remodeled it to rent out to startups. The company declined to reveal the fee, but said the space would not be free. Startups can “enjoy the latest facilities at a cheap price,” according to Kim Hee-gon, a spokesperson for Posco.
The steelmaker is able to select the startups that work at Change Up Ground. It says that it will not be taking equity stakes in the companies in the incubator at first and that the start-ups have not agreed to grant Posco any special rights.
Posco “hopes Change Up Ground functions as a reliable partner to many venture companies to [contribute] to the birth of big companies that will lead Korea in the future,” said Posco Chairman Choi Jeong-woo at the launch event that took place in Gangnam on Wednesday. Posco “will try to activate the ecosystem for startups by constructing the Posco venture platform.”
“The definitive solution to prepare for the unpredictable future of companies and the country is to actively develop the ecosystem for venture [companies] to discover innovative ideas and make business based on those ideas,” said Choi.
“Many more startups will hopefully innovate the ecosystem of the domestic economy with a heated challenge and passion like Posco’s blast furnace,” Park Young-sun, minister of SMEs and Startups, said.
Change Up Ground has a total gross area of 4,200 square meters (45,208 square feet). Currently, 28 startups focusing in the areas ranging from artificial intelligence (AI) to biomaterials have entered the incubating center. Facilities in the building include a studio for video filming, a room for video conferencing on every floor and a phone booth.
The steelmaker said it plans to further develop the infrastructure to foster the growth of startups to help them secure investment, conduct research and exchange technologies. It vowed to help the growth of startups in not just the capital areas, but also in Pohang, North Gyeongsang, and Gwangnyang, South Jeolla, where the company operates steel mill.
On the same day, Posco announced it was named the winner of Steel Industry Leadership category at the Global Metals Awards which aims to honor and recognize people and companies that motivate the metals industry. It was hosted by S&P Global Platts, an information provider for energy and commodities.
Posco has been challenged in recent years by long-term business challenges as well as the Covid-19 outbreak. Last month, it was forced to idle production facilities for the first time in over a decade.
BY JIN MIN-JI [firstname.lastname@example.org]