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Google launches venture incubator in Seoul

May 8, 2015 - 19:56 By Korea Herald
U.S. search giant Google launched its start-up incubator, dubbed Campus Seoul, in Korea on Friday, with aims to cultivate tech entrepreneurs in Asia and support their global success.

The Seoul unit is the first of its kind in Asia and the third globally after London and Tel Aviv spaces. Google plans to open three more campuses in three cities ― Madrid, Sao Paulo and Warsaw ― in the second half of this year.

“I appreciate Google has paid attention to the potential of Korean developers and venture companies,” said President Park Geun-hye in her speech during the opening ceremony. 

President Park Geun-hye and Google’s Asia-Pacific head Karim Temsamani (second from left) unveil the logo of Campus Seoul during the opening ceremony of the Google space for venture start-ups in Daechi-dong, southern Seoul, Friday. (Yonhap)

“This will also become an excellent investment for Google.”

Campus Seoul, located on a 2,000-square-meter site in southern Seoul, is a product of the 2013 meeting between the president and Google CEO Larry Page. The plan was first announced in August last year.

Its main goal is providing office space for start-ups, including the first eight permanent residents, but it will host diverse events where developers can test-drive their products and services.

Mentoring and training programs also will be offered, especially for the global networking of entrepreneurs at Google campuses around the world.

During three weeks prior to the official opening, more than 1,000 business owners from 28 countries joined for the campus membership. The company said 22 percent of them are women, hinting at more specialized programs for them.

Citing economic and cultural progress Korea has made over the past decades, Karim Temsamani, Google’s head of Asia-Pacific, said: “Korea fits easily and naturally into our life.”

In terms of the number of developers, Korea is among the top five countries on Google’s Android app store, he added.

Even though the start-up business environment has never been better, he said still too many companies are focusing locally and need to develop their business for the rest of the world.

“Part of the solution is to get more investment, raising their status and seeking connection globally,” he said.

“You do not have to live in Seoul to benefit from Korean innovation. Koreans don’t need to be in Silicon Valley to participate in this amazing change and transformation.”

Mary Grove, Google director for entrepreneurs, stressed that the campus is an open platform and there is no limit for developers to create their products.

She added Google would support not just Korean start-ups to go global but also foreign firms to enter the Korean market.

By Lee Ji-yoon (