Aiming to foster enhanced collaboration and unveil new avenues of innovation between the Indo-Korean startup ecosystems, the Startup Incubation and Innovation Centre (SIIC), IIT Kanpur hosted the Indo Korean Knowledge Exchange Workshop 2023 at its Noida Outreach Centre.
The event saw participation from over 8 Korean startups spanning across sectors such as automobile, media, emerging technologies, transportation, fintech, and lifestyle.
Dr. Nikhil Agarwal, CEO, SIIC and AIIDE-CoE, IIT Kanpur, informed the participants about the burgeoning alliance with the Unicorn Incubator, which initiated around a year ago and has since matured into a significant platform for Indo-Korean exchanges.
Post the initial dialogues, Dr. Agarwal said, the Unicorn Incubator manifested interest in having SIIC host a Korean delegation, thereby exhibiting the enthusiasm of various Korean firms in establishing a foothold in India.
He noted that a majority of these firms are in their growth phase, with some boasting business operations surpassing $70 million. Their primary focus revolves around technological and business collaborations, importing Korean technology to India, and tapping into the Indian talent reservoir.
“Numerous Korean companies are keen on establishing a base in India… They are primarily interested in technological and business collaboration,” Dr. Agarwal reiterated, shedding light on the intent of the Korean entities present.
Highlighting the essence of deep collaboration, Dr. Agarwal delved into the comprehension that large-scale Korean companies possess about the Indian market, often outpacing the understanding of some Indian counterparts.
He cited the significant inroads made by brands like LG, Hyundai, Kia, and Samsung into the Indian market, becoming household names. He said on the commonality of finding Korean brand appliances in urban middle-class homes, indicating the substantial market penetration achieved.
The discourse also touched the enduring India-Korea camaraderie, especially in the context of celebrating anniversaries of Indian independence and India-Korea friendship. The primary agenda steers towards nurturing technological collaborations and potentially forging joint ventures in India, thereby unlocking doors for partnerships and business interactions in both nations.
Dr. Agarwal also highlighted the appeal that the Korean market, extending its wings to the broader oriental region including Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan, and parts of Malaysia, holds for several Indian FinTech, cybersecurity, and AI enterprises. He lauded Seoul's startup-friendly ambiance, drawing parallels with New York.
Addressing the established networks Korean firms have with entities in Silicon Valley and Israeli companies, Dr. Agarwal acknowledged that the Indian ecosystem is relatively nascent to Korean startups.
Initiatives are underway to bridge this divide, with the inaugural batch of incubation companies having touched down in India. They have been accorded soft launch opportunities to kickstart their ventures in India, supplemented with assistance in securing space, residency, and legal and banking support.
“The primary objective is to foster technological collaboration and possibly form joint ventures (JVs) in India,” Dr. Agarwal said, emphasising the ongoing efforts to delve into more exhaustive discussions and advocating for extended business engagements between Indo-Korean entities.
He cited India's demographic edge as a lucrative market for business ventures, urging the Korean startups to explore long terms partnership with Indian firms.