Seoul, the capital city of South Korea, has become a rapidly growing startup hub in recent years. The city has a thriving tech industry and a supportive government that has invested heavily in creating a favorable environment for entrepreneurs and startups. Seoul is the world's second-largest metropolitan area, with almost half of the Korean population living there.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government is actively supporting innovative tech startups through various initiatives such as developing startup infrastructure, fostering talent, investing in growth phases, and facilitating global expansion.
Home to 8 out of Korea's 22 unicorns, Seoul's startup ecosystem was valued at KRW 47 trillion (US$ 40 billion) in 2021, making it one of the top 20 startup ecosystems globally. The city boasts nearly 50 startup hubs, featuring incubators, a prototype factory, and the Seoul Startup Cafe for information exchange, which together create a dense network of support for new businesses.
The government is focusing on AI, fintech, and life sciences to strengthen the startup ecosystem. Aiming to triple the number of unicorns, the city seeks to support consistent growth beyond the startup phase and into medium-sized enterprises.
Here are some factors contributing to Seoul's appeal as a startup destination:
Government support: The South Korean government actively promotes entrepreneurship and startup culture through initiatives such as the Korea Startup Hub and the Seoul Metropolitan Government's Startup Support Center, which offer mentoring, funding, and office space to startups.
Access to funding: A growing number of venture capital firms and angel investors in Seoul are eager to invest in promising startups. The Korean government encourages the growth in the startup scene by providing tax breaks and incentives for angel investors and venture capitalists, tax benefits for tech and R&D sector mergers and acquisitions, and improved visa regulations for startups and entrepreneurs from abroad.
Skilled workforce: Seoul is home to a highly educated and skilled workforce, with a strong focus on STEM fields. According to the Global Innovation Index 2021, Korea ranks 1st in the world for the number of science and engineering graduates and 3rd for the quality of its universities.
Infrastructure: Seoul's well-developed infrastructure includes high-speed internet, advanced transportation systems, and world-class facilities, making it easy for startups to connect with customers, partners, and investors.
Strategic location: Situated in East Asia, Seoul is an ideal hub for startups targeting the rapidly-growing Asian market. The city also maintains extensive business networks throughout the region.