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KITA opens center to help start-ups go global

June 05,2019
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Korea International Trade Association Chairman Kim Young-ju, left, and Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Sung Yun-mo shake hands during the opening ceremony of the Startup Branch at Coex, southern Seoul. [KOREA INTERNATIONAL TRADE ASSOCIATION]
The Korea International Trade Association (KITA) opened up a center to help start-ups go global in Coex, southern Seoul, on Tuesday.

“There are limitations for local companies that just focus on the domestic market,” said KITA Chairman Kim Young-ju, during a press briefing with reporters Tuesday ahead of the opening ceremony of the center dubbed the Startup Branch. “While there are many programs out there for start-ups by different institutions, KITA will focus on sharing our overseas networks to help them go global and scale-up their business.”

Kim said its center will not be an incubating center and rather an open venue for start-ups to pitch ideas and consult with conglomerates, expert groups and regulators so they can get the right help they need for starting overseas businesses.

The 250-pyeong (8,896-square-foot) center is located on the second floor of Coex. The center consists of shared office space and meeting rooms as well as a pitching hall for start-ups to pitch ideas to investors.

On the opening day, luxury brand Chanel held meetings with 13 local start-ups at the center looking for innovative partners to collaborate with.

One of the start-ups, WooriKids, developed a rubber stamp-like cosmetics container. When users stamp the container, a set amount of lotion or cosmetics is deposited in the shape of the Chanel logo. A spokesperson from the start-up said the container enables users to get the right amount of lotion every time, unlike regular containers that pump out different amounts of lotion almost every time.

Another start-up, D3D, has technology that enables designers to create digital prototypes of their fashion designs quickly and at a low-cost.

The 13 start-ups were selected by Chanel among some 100 start-ups KITA recommended and earned the opportunity to pitch their ideas, according to Lee Dong-ki, executive managing director of the Innovation & Startup Group under KITA.

KITA is planning to match more companies from the Fortune 500 list with local start-ups, Kim said.

“The benefit of KITA being a private organization is that we can be more flexible with our programs and budget,” Kim said. “But we do intend to collaborate with all relevant trade organizations ... in the case of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency, they have many more overseas trade offices than us and we can get help from them so start-ups can use their network.”

BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]