Supporting Korean Startups: Ministry of SMEs & Startups (MSS) to encourage and strengthen innovation

The Korean government is committed to nurture and strengthen the startup ecosystem in the country. The government has set up a number of organizations and agencies that help budding entrepreneurs and innovative startups. In 2017, the Ministry of SMEs (Small & Medium-sized Enterprises) & Startups or MSS was set up under the leadership of President Moon Jae-in.

What is MSS?

Ministry of SMEs (Small & Medium-sized Enterprises) & Startups was created as a separate entity from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry’s SME section in 2017. The sole purpose of the ministry is to support small businesses and startups. Its primary role is to promote business growth, foster startups, and support micro-enterprises through policies and investments. Currently led by Minister Park Young-Su, MSS is based out of Seo-gu Daejon.

MSS’s role in the startup ecosystem

MSS plays a significant role in the success of the startups in the country. It has created a viable ecosystem that helps startups flourish and succeed. The ministry supports the startups and small businesses through various ways such as policy making, crafting regulations and reforms, provide funding opportunities, manage support organizations, and creating a sustainable environment for startups.

MSS provides a variety of tech startup platforms to discover promising startups and improve their chance of success through speedy growth. “Tech Incubator Program for Start-up (TIPS)” provides R&D and matching funds for selected startup teams with investments from venture capitalists. “Start-up Leader Universities” offer startups with excellent infrastructures supported by universities. “Smart Venture Start-up Schools” support startups in promising knowledge-based industries such as software and content development.

MSS works with other ministries to lower taxes and ease regulations for startups and to develop a favorable environment for new businesses through a series of reforms. Also, it expands the foundation for startups by providing more maker-spaces and training-makers to help startups realize their ideas.

 

MSS operates nine affiliated organizations that form a functional network to carry out MSS’s policies helping startups and SMEs. The nine agencies include Korea Federation of Credit Guarantee Foundations (KOREG), Small and Medium Business Corporation (SBC), Korea Technology and Information Promotion Agency (TIPA), Small Business Distribution Center (SBDC), Small Enterprises and Marketing Services (SEMAS), Korea Institute of Start-up and Entrepreneurship Development (KISED), Korea Venture Investment Corporation (KVIC), Korea Small Business Institute (KOSBI), Korea Technology Finance Corporation(KIBO). Every year, the MSS also runs the K-Startup Grand Challenge program, an online startup program for the youth.

Provide extra support in times of crisis

Park Young-sun, Minister of SMEs and Startups, and Kim Ki-moon, president of KBIZ (Korea Federation of SMEs) held a meeting with 20 businessmen including cooperative board chairman and business owners on Mar. 16 at the KBIZ, Yeouido, Seoul aimed at minimizing damage from COVID-19 outbreak and overcoming it early.

The MSS’s other significant role is to stand up for the startups and SMEs during challenging times, such as now during the Covid-19 wave. South Korea has been majorly hit by the Coronavirus, and the startups suffered a setback. On March 2, 2020, the ministry announced that it would spend 3.15 trillion won or $2.6 million to support startups and SMEs affected by the Coronavirus. This aid is a 12-fold increase from 250 billion won or $202 million in the fund that MSS was to spend this year announced earlier in February.

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