[Editorial] Let K-start-ups challenge the global market

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[Editorial] Let K-start-ups challenge the global market

Multinational tech companies like Microsoft, Google and Intel judge highly innovations by Korean start-ups and yet find them deficient in readiness for global advancement, according to a survey by the Korea International Trade Association (KITA).

In its Open Innovation Trend survey on 102 global companies listed on the Fortune Global ranking, Korean start-ups scored 7.4 out of 10 points as a reference to the technology competitiveness of Silicone Valley-based enterprises. More than half, or 55 percent, of the global companies cited “competitiveness in innovative technology” as the strength of Korean start-ups. But their grades on global readiness and differentiation of business model were lower at 6.1 and 6.4 percent, respectively.

Open innovation is a buzzword in the global corporate community. It widens the space of value operation through the sharing of complementary ideas and skills to advance technology and services. Big companies today choose to acquire or merge smaller ventures or start-ups for their new growth instead of investing in their own research and development. It costs too much for large companies to rely solely on internal resources to come up with a new line of products and services. Their investments in R&D also became riskier due to the shorter life span of brand new products amid the rapid evolution of science and technology.

Nine out of 10 global companies are planning to maintain or expand their open innovation partnership with start-ups. First of all, their approval of Korean start-up technologies raises hopes for bigger chances for Korean enterprises. Korea’s R&D investment versus gross domestic product is at the top in the global scale. Professors from Seoul National University and KAIST often get their papers published in world-famous journals like Nature and Science. Scientists also have been more eager to take their research work to commercial levels by starting their own businesses.

But their lacking readiness for global advance demands keen attention. About 57 percent of global companies in the survey advised Korean start-ups to show up more in global exhibitions to showcase their new technologies to the global community and test their global capacity and market adaptability. A record number of start-ups from Korea joined the CES 2023 in Las Vegas earlier this year. But Korean start-ups need not just greater exposure to global audiences but also their increased test beds to prove their technology applications, according to KITA. The government and society must support Korean enterprises so that they can scale up from fast followers to first movers.
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