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Campus town startups dream of becoming unicorns in the future
  • Writer : Communications Team
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  • Date : 2019-04-04

Campus town startups dream of becoming unicorns in the future

Four universities are brought together as a base platform for fostering innovative entrepreneurship

Korea University expects to see startup companies going public (IPO) in 2020 and further create additional space for new startups

Announcements regarding the 2019 Seoul Campus Town Plan were also made.

▲ (From left) Dae-woo Park (Vice Mayor of Gwangjin-gu), In-chul Kim (Vice Mayor of Nowon-gu), Deg-hyo Bae (President of Sejong University), Jin Taek Chung (President of Korea University), Jun-byung Yun (First Administrative Deputy Mayor), Chang Soo Kim (President of Chung-Ang University), Young Keun Choi (Vice President of Kwangwoon University), Jung-soo Sohn (Vice Mayor of Seongbuk-gu), Gi-wan Lee (Vice Mayor of Dongjak-gu)


Korea University, together with Seoul City and Seongbuk-gu, held a joint collaboration agreement ceremony for the successful promotion of the Campus Town Project at the Global Conference Hall located in the Centennial Memorial Samsung Hall on Tuesday, March 26, 2019. The project will serve as a base platform for innovative and entrepreneurial startups.



Presidents from four universities (Korea University, Kwangwoon University, Sejong University and Chung-Ang University), Jun-byung Yun (First Administrative Deputy Mayor), and vice mayors from four districts (Seongbuk, Nowon, Gwangjin and Dongjak) attended the ceremony.


Through this agreement, related institutions will construct cooperative ties with universities and local communities and establish a foundation for sustainable regional growth in the universities and their surrounding areas to create new jobs and to boost local economies through mutual collaboration in promoting youth startups.



Together with this collaboration ceremony, Seoul City has announced its plan to implement the 2019 Seoul Campus Town Project with four universities, Korea University, Kwangwoon University, Sejong University and Chung-Ang University. At the ceremony, Jae-hyun Baek (CEO of AEOL Corporation), one of Korea University’s first generation startup companies, presented their successful campus town startup story.



AEOL Corporation, a company that produces products that constitute a combination of dehumidification, ventilation, air purification, and auxiliary refrigeration functions, received roughly KRW 3 billion in investment within one year of receiving startup incubation support from Korea University. It was certified as a venture company by the Venture Capital Association in January. The company is soon expecting to sign an ODM (Original Design Manufacturer) agreement with Samsung Electronics and is currently preparing to go through the IPO (Initial Public Offering) process in the following year.


※ ODM: Original Design Manufacturer is a company that possesses the capability to manufacture products but supplies or rebrands goods through a distributor with a well-established sales network.


Jae-hyun Baek, currently a doctoral student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Korea University Graduate School stated, “I had the original technology and ideas, but had no idea how to start a business with these. Participating in the Campus Town Startup Competition helped me to get a space and initial funding, which were my biggest concerns. Receiving mentoring support from professors at Korea University and financial investment has been a great help. I believe that startup environments are really important. In that sense, I believe that the roles that public institutions and the university play are huge. Receiving such assistance and support really got me through the whole process. I hope that support for initial funding, space, and mentoring will continue.”


The Campus Town Project, which celebrates its third year this year, supports up to KRW 10 billion for four years for each participating university for setting up startup spaces, incubation programs, and university-local community collaborative projects. Korea University, which participated in this pilot project in 2016, entered its third year of business this year.


<Fostering Bio-intellectuals and maximizing startup space in connection with the Korea University-Hongneung Research Complex → Aims to produce unicorn startup companies in 2025>


Korea University, which is in the third year of the Campus Town Project, has about 50% of the startup teams comprised of university graduates and local community members. As much as Korea University is making contributions in creating new job opportunities and leading toward a successful coexistence of university and local residents, it plans to concentrate on cultivating intellectuals according to their expertise, while enlarging startup spaces.


Korea University currently has nine startup incubator studios and one startup café. It has selected 27 startup teams (competition rate 5:1) through startup competitions (five times in total). These startup teams have achieved sales and investment worth KRW 7 billion over their two years of business, and shown remarkable achievements such as AEOL Corporation, which is expected to go public in the near future.


At the ceremony, Korea University announced that it will produce IPO companies in 2020, generate unicorn companies in 2025, and yield unicorn companies listed in the world’s top 50 rankings.

※ IPO: Initial Public Offering

※ Unicorn company: An unlisted startup company valued at over KRW 1 trillion


In order to allow entrepreneurs to devote themselves to entrepreneurship, Korea University plans to establish three more incubation centers including startup anchor facilities and startup studios by the end of this year, making a total of 13 startup incubation centers. In particular, Korea University will open and operate a department dedicated to artificial intelligence by connecting it to the Korea University Hongneung Bio Cluster, which will allow it to concentrate on incubating startups in relation to the field of artificial intelligence.


In order to allow youth startups and university-local community ties to prosper, Seoul City plans to do the following: (1) expand the number of startup spaces from 20 to 100; (2) allow access to university facilities and faculty on campus; and (3) support startups that wish to design logos. Through these plans, Seoul City will provide an environment in which young entrepreneurs can feel pride and thus devote themselves to their startups.


In addition to the above, the Technology Consulting Matching Center will be established this year so that young entrepreneurs can receive assistance when they experience technical difficulties or need professional legal, tax, or accounting advice. The center will also expand its functions so that professors and researchers can play vital roles as accelerators from various different angles to support the success of the startups.



KU President Jin Taek Chung stated, “This moment that we are experiencing right now is very important as we are providing a crucial clue in pioneering the future when problems related to low growth, high unemployment, aging and the like are recently prevalent in many developed countries.” Chung further added, “The case study that was presented today was based on a successful instance. However, I believe that they have experienced many failures and difficulties on their journey to success. I would like to advise students to challenge themselves fearlessly. Students need to be fearless if they wish to challenge entrepreneurship. In order to allow the Campus Town Development Project to navigate smoothly, Korea University will take the lead in resolving problems that students might encounter such as providing the university personnel and physical resources with regard to job creation in addition to revitalizing the local community.”


Jun-byung Yun, First Administrative Deputy Mayor, stated, “Startups are closely related to survival. It is difficult to generate achievements in a short period of time. Therefore, it is imperative that companies, government institutes and universities all work together and continuously collaborate and assist one another in the long run. Seoul City will continue to discover and cooperate with young entrepreneurs who possess talents and innovative ideas. Seoul City will continuously support this collaboration and inspire startup teams, allowing them to cultivate their campus town entrepreneurships so that they can go public and become unicorn companies in the future.”



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