[Herald Interview] KGCCI to award innovative firms
German chamber seeks to nurture futuristic SMEs in Korea, Germany
Published : Jun 5, 2015 - 20:35
Updated : Jun 5, 2015 - 21:41
Inspired by the South Korean government’s initiative to foster a “creative economy,” the Korean-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry is seeking to recognize innovative Korean and German operations here with the inaugural KGCCI Innovation Awards.

“We wish to provide a forum for a broad variety of innovative companies located in Korea, both Korean and German, to advertise their unique and innovative potentials,” KGCCI secretary-general and executive director Barbara Zollmann told The Korea Herald.

“We especially hope that smaller and medium-sized companies will bring forward innovative concepts which they can present to a broader public,” she said, noting that an individual’s unique idea can oftentimes have much more impact and be implemented relatively quicker in a smaller firm than at a conglomerate.

The KGCCI, the second-largest bilateral chamber in Korea with around 500 members, created the award to raise awareness on innovative solutions being pursued by forward-minded businesses and to also foster discussion and cooperation between Korean and German companies.

KGCCI secretary-general and executive director Barbara Zollmann. (KGCCI)

“German companies are admired for their technological advancement, whereas Korean companies are known for their strength in quick implementation and perfecting existing concepts, combined with creative designs and contents,” Zollmann said.

“Companies can nominate their innovative products and services as well as their unique organizational structure, distribution process or approaches to marketing and sales.”

As for what exactly defines the concept of innovation in business, the KGCCI head said “the core of innovation is oftentimes simply a good idea, but it also needs to be brought to the market and get accepted by the customer to turn into revenues.”

After the application period closes on June 15, a total of three companies will be awarded in three categories: innovation in business, innovation in green technologies and innovation workforce development.

Whereas the first category is a general category meant to grant companies the maximum room to apply, the second and third categories seek to specifically recognize companies which have pursued innovative solutions to environmental and workforce challenges.

“These can include being more inclusive of women, or, going one step further, including handicapped people into the workforce and taking creative approaches to how employees can organize their work day,” Zollmann said.

A high-ranking Korean-German jury will evaluate the candidates based on four criteria: the degree of innovation, success in the market, positive influence on the company and benefit to society.

The winners will be announced by the end of July and receive their awards at the KGCCI Innovation Awards Gala on Sept. 9 at Some Sevit, or Floating Island, in Seoul. For more information, visit or call (02) 3780-4659.

By Sohn Ji-young (