The Korea-Finland Startup Summit 2019 held in Helsinki on June 11, organized along with the significant visit of Korean President Moon Jae-in to Finland was a grand success. The summit opened up with the Innovative Growth Forum, with keynote addresses by Presidents of both countries – Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and South Korea President Moon Jae-in. Both nations pledged for full cooperation to support startups and foster innovative growth.
The Summit was hosted by Business Finland with the Ministry of SMEs and Startups, Korea Startup Forum, Korea Institute of Startups & Entrepreneurship Development (KISED), Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) and the Korea Chamber of Commerce ＆Industry. The commissioned delegation from S. Korea that attended the summit had representatives of startups and medium to large companies, venture capitalists and accelerators. This is the first time that a startup delegation has been part of the Korean President’s visit to a foreign nation.
The Summit’s morning session of the Innovative Growth Forum started with opening speeches from Pekka Soini, Director General & CEO of Business Finland and head of Korea Startup Forum’s Kim Bong Jin. Both the business delegation heads promised to strengthen cooperation through exchanges between the two countries.
Heads of both nations vouch for cooperation and growth
Presidents of both countries, Finland and South Korea, addressed the forum of about 200 delegates: representatives of startups, large and small companies, angel investors, venture capitalists, government officials, and media. President Moon Jae-in proposed three directions of start-up and economic cooperation that Korea and Finland should go together, such as the establishment of a start-up ecosystem, the joint response of the 4th Industrial Revolution, and educational cooperation for fostering creative talents.
“We will strengthen cooperation between the two countries to build a start-up ecosystem full of challenges and innovations.”
– President Moon Jae-in, South Korea
President Moon emphasized cooperation between government agencies of both nations and said, “Our Korean government organizations – The Ministry of SMEs and Startups(MSS), KISED(Korea Institute of Startup & Entrepreneurship Development ), KOTRA(Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency) will work closely with Business Finland for funding startups and mutual exchange of ideas and people.”
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto hailed President Moon’s address and stated that new startups and fast-growing companies play a central role in renewal and future competitiveness of economies of both countries.
“It makes perfect sense for both of our countries to work in principle together,”
President Sauli Niinisto Finland.
He thanked the Korean President and delegates for the excellent proposal to strengthen cooperation in supporting startups and small and medium-sized enterprises. The President also mentioned the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that was signed between the Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Korean Ministry of SMEs and startups on June 10th for joint investment venture funds. The Korean Ministry is also set to establish a Korean Startup Centre in Finland and also announced a ‘Startup’ festival called ‘ComeUp 2019″ in November based on the famous ‘SLUSH’ a startup and tech festival held in Finland annually.
Hackathon for university students to encourage future innovations
A Hackathon for university students was also part of the summit. The 3-day Hackathon (June 9 to 12) has 51 university students from Finland and South Korea working together on several ideas and developing an actual product to showcase in front of judges and mentors on June 12th.
The Hackathon has been organized by N15 (S.Korea, Hardware Accelerator) and Junction (Finland). There were 20 mentors from Korean and Finland supervising the student teams like Yanolja CEO Lee Soo-jin, Woowa Brothers CEO Kim Bong-jin, Bomapp CEO Ryu Jun-woo, Wizdome CEO Sangwoo Han, Nowbusking CEO Jeon Sang-yeol, Kim Mi-Kyun CEO of CIZIOE, etc. CEO Lee Seok-Woo of Dunamu also had joined the Hackathon as a speaker.
Top Businesses talk about growth & opportunities
Later in the Startup Summit, Nokia Chairman Risto Siilasmaa introduced Finland’s experience in fostering startups. Nokia is one of the most successful startups that has emerged from the Scandinavian nation.
Sung Hyun Pyun, CEO of Speclipse, a Korean startup that has developed technology to diagnose skin cancer earlier with no tissue damage, talked about the company’s innovation and Korean entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Speclipse is the only company from S. Korea awarded the top 10 companies in the ‘2018 dermatology solution’ category selected by the US Healthcare Media MedTech Outlook. In addition, it has been approved for Europe (CE), Australia (TGA) and US (FDA), and is launching full-fledged growth through overseas expansion of European bases.
Jungwook Lim, the Managing Director of the Startup Alliance Korea, gave a very engrossing speech about the Korean startup ecosystem. He informed that the Korean startups are thriving and in the last five years the venture investment has almost doubled. “Investment by just local VCs has crossed $ 3 billion and the number of VCs investing in Korean startups is over 1500.”
There was also an introduction by the Finnish startup SANSOX, which has developed new solutions and application for water treatment needs, and has been part of the K-Startup Grand Challenge, a startup program in South Korea hosted by the Korean National IT Industry Promotion Agency (NIPA), Korea Innovation Center (KIC) and Ministry of SMEs and Startups. Through the Korean acceleration program, SANSOX has formed new partnerships in S. Korea.
Startups Pitch at the Summit
The second session of the Korea-Finland Startup Summit was all about networking and pitching to strategic & financial investors. Selected Korean and Finnish startups got to talk about their businesses and service.
The Korean startups that made their presentation at the summit were:
1) VCNC, CEO Park Jae-wook: VCNC runs a successful ride-sharing service called Tada in S. Korea.
2) LINKFLOW, CEO Yongkuk Kim: A spin-off from Samsung Electronics’ Creative Lan, this startup is into virtual reality cameras.
3) Angelswing CEO Park Won-nyoung: It is a social venture startup that uses smart drones to provide geographical data.
4) THIRTEENTH FLOOR Corp, CEO Jung-woo Noel Park: The company specializes in creating and distribution of VR Content and distribute world-class Cinematic VR Content and Interactive VR Content.
5) Flamingo, CEO SANGWAN KIM: Flamingo provides an automatic revenue management system specially designed for SMEs.
6) KITTEN PLANET (Brush Monster), CEO Jong-ho choi: It is a digital dental care startup that helps kids know how to brush using modern technologies such as Augmented Reality and Artifical Intelligence and sensor technology.
7) Mobiltech, CEO Jae-Seung Kim
8) VUNO, Team Leader Han-Kid Cho: The startup offers AI-based medical solutions for medical data analysis.
9) MOBIDAYS, CEO Bum-ryung Yoo: Mobidays offers global mobile marketing to businesses and services.
10) Evidnet, CEO Insan Cho: It is a big data startup analyzing and standardizing the data format and structure specifically for the health care industry
The startups from Finland that got the stage to present their businesses were:
1) Taika3D, Co-Founder Petja Kärki: The startup works to expedite and automate the process from 3D scanning to 3D printing.
2) Triumf Health, CEO Kadri Haljas: The company has created a mobile health game to support chronically ill children during the treatment and a dashboard to monitor status for the care team.
3) Ninchat, CEO Ville Mujunen: It has developed a secure white-label chat platform for demanding customers.
4) Funzi, CEO Aape Pohjavirta: Funzi produces mobile learning and information service with an initial focus on emerging markets.
5) PulseOn, CEO Jaakko Hattula: The company has developed a technology that produces heart rate monitors for analytics and other wellness solutions.
6) Kaiku Health, CEO Ramin Baghaie: It is a digital health company with a mission to improve the quality of life through health data science.
7) Navigil, CEO Matti Räty: It produces unique wellbeing wrist watches, focusing on elderly care.
8) Capsamedix, CEO Antti Rahikkala: The startup develops devices for long-term oral drug delivery.
9) HUOLETI, CEO Carita Savin: Huoleti provides an innovative service concept that supports cancer patients, their families and close ones after the diagnosis.
Besides the pitching session, the start-up joint IR and conferences held as ancillary events helped participating startups share the vision of the future and understanding and business model and entrepreneurial ecosystem of the two countries. The startups also had booths to present their products and services, which further enhanced the networking at the summit. The startups that had the booths beside the ones that pitched were Nipa, Salted Venture, Mopic, Rocket View, DoBrain, Gopick, X-Bus, Gen-swell, Tomo Cube, Olive Union, Tespack, Novomics, NuriBio, Edenlux, Philophos, Plasmapp, Qara Soft, Lifesemantics, Hulnno, Bitsensing, Star’s Tech, Sherpa Space, Reset Company, Smarf, Hankooknfc, BluePrintLab, Genomecom and Amazingbrewing.
Overall the event proved to be a grand success, with the Korean startup delegation making new connections and attracting potential investors.