Good morning everyone. I am glad to meet our proud young startup leaders here at this site for innovative business ventures. U.S.-based Forbes magazine selected 21 young entrepreneurs from Korean startups for its “30 Under 30 Asia” list. These young CEOs have not only elevated the status of K-startups but have also inspired our people with great hope.
All of you are today’s heroes. You are building not just a global Republic of Korea but a Republic of Korea that takes the lead in the world. I am very proud of you. The future of our economy depends on your innovations.
Today, we are joined by such startups as Polariant, the first in the world to utilize polarized light for accurate location detection even indoors where there is no GPS signal available. Stars Tech developed an eco-friendly de-icer from starfish extracts, and REBORN is a developer of plastic recycling technology that uses microbes.
Farmskin provides skincare products processed from the milk of cows that have just given birth. Ziptoss created a commission-free real estate brokerage platform. 10fingers created an app that recommends customized date courses to couples after analyzing their behavior patterns. Mathpresso developed the app Qanda that allows students to upload photos of math or science problems that are then instantly solved. AB180 and other AI- and big data-based service providers that have brought the future closer to reality through innovative thinking include WhiteScan, Superb AI, thingsflow, LetinAR, wing bling, VPIX Medical, Foodpang and Artisan&Ocean.
In the process of overcoming COVID-19, startups and business ventures have played remarkable roles. They provided information on a real-time basis through apps and websites like Corona Map and Mask Map and developed quick diagnostic test kits, making the world take note of Korea’s COVID-19 response.
In addition, some thoughtful startups have been of help in times of difficulties by providing systems for working remotely and childcare services free of charge. I have very high expectations for you who protect the people’s safety and bring about a new future through creativity and innovation.
From the early days of its launch, My Administration has set a goal of building a nation of innovative startups as one of its key administrative tasks. I’ve personally visited several startups for meetings, and made efforts to resolve the difficulties facing them. We have created an innovative venture fund and abolished joint and several liability systems so that anyone with innovative ideas can readily start a business and recover if they fail. Innovative financing, which allows technology to be used as collateral for loans, has also been expanded.
We have introduced a regulatory sandbox system and special regulation-free zones and boldly removed regulations that stand in the way of starting a new business. As a consequence, new venture investments recorded an all-time high of 4.3 trillion won last year, and the number of newly established corporations surpassed 109,000. As of now, there are 11 business unicorns in the nation, and the number of soon-to-be business unicorns has significantly increased to reach 235.
Amid this situation, we’ve come to face an economic crisis triggered by COVID-19. A new beginning will be made from this moment on. Before growing into global business unicorns, startups must overcome numerous obstacles such as the “Valley of Death” and the “Darwinian Sea.” The Government will continue to provide support until innovative ideas can be commercialized and stand tall on the world stage.
We will vigorously push ahead with the K-unicorn project to help domestic startups evolve into global business unicorns. We will identify promising startups and provide them with support packages to help with loans, guarantees and the pioneering of new markets. We have to ride out unexpected high waves like the current one together.
The Government has come up with emergency support plans to assist business ventures and startups that are undergoing hardships. We will supply additional funds of 2.2 trillion won in total by the end of this year, including low-interest loans for startups and the introduction of special loan guarantees. We will mobilize all available means to revive the flame of innovative growth without fail.
We are in difficult circumstances, but we can usher in new opportunities for startups if we prepare properly for the post-COVID-19 era. Non-face-to-face and online services will become major worldwide trends, and the transition to a digital economy will be accelerated. Representatives from companies that made preparations one step ahead are here with us today as well: Both Taling and DoBrain developed matching services for P2P education, and Dr. Diary developed an app to manage diabetes and other chronic diseases.
The Government will boldly push ahead with a Korean version of the New Deal so that in non-face-to-face, digital areas we can take the lead in new industries. We will soon publicly announce ways to promote three areas: establishing digital infrastructure, such as data, 5G and AI; fostering non-face-to-face industries; and digitalizing infrastructure. We will give greater impetus to helping the country surge ahead as a digital powerhouse, including the creation of a digital smart Republic of Korea fund.
In order to regain our economic vitality and generate decent jobs, creating innovative startups is not a choice but a must. Your role is very important. Only if you succeed will more young adults rush to start businesses and waves of innovative startups spread throughout the entire economy.
You have been chosen global startup leaders, and I look forward to meeting you again later when you become leaders of global unicorn companies with your operations flourishing further. Let’s turn this crisis into an opportunity together and lead the world.