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(LEAD) Gov't announces support measures for startups

All Headlines 12:47 April 05, 2017

(ATTN: ADDS more details in 6-8 paras)
By Kim Han-joo

SEOUL, April 5 (Yonhap) -- South Korea announced a set of measures Wednesday to nurture startups and venture firms in the science and technology sectors to secure new growth engines and to eventually create more jobs for the country's young people.

Under the comprehensive plan announced by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, the government will assist young entrepreneurs from startups to gain access to the global market.

"The government will make utmost efforts so that promising local startups can grow and succeed abroad," said Koh Kyeong-mo, an ICT official in charge of the policy.

First, the government will establish a 3 trillion won (US$2.7 billion) fund to help young job seekers launch 50,000 new startups. The fund will focus on establishing infrastructure for basic sciences, promote new-growth sectors and assist venture firms, the ministry added.

The government, in particular, will help young job seekers launch new biotech startups and develop new technologies, officials said. The duration of support to be given for biotech sector firms will be expanded from three to seven years.

Also, the ministry said it will allow big conglomerates to make further investment into the startups by easing regulations.

The ministry is actively mulling over legalizing two types of investment methods -- "convertible note" and Simple Agreement for Future Equity (SAFE)." A convertible note is often used by seed investors investing in startups wishing to delay establishing a valuation for that startup until a later round of funding. SAFE is when an investor makes a cash investment in a company but gets company stock at a later date.

"In order for promising local startups to succeed in the global market, the ecosystem of investment should also be globalized and upgraded," said Koh.

Also, the ministry said it will help international entrepreneurs from across the world pitch their business ideas in South Korea. Last year, the ministry hosted the accelerator program K-Startup Grand Challenge, the first of its kind, to help foreign startups begin their businesses here.

The government said it also extended a variety of tax incentives as part of its efforts to help small but innovative companies, as the venture capital market in South Korea has been in the doldrums since the IT boom ended in the mid-2000s.

khj@yna.co.kr
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