In the 21st century when the world is an emerging sphere of technology and connectivity, IT Startup significantly has turned into a leading driving force for employment creation through idea innovation to digital product and service creation. Generally any IT startup is a very young company that is just beginning to develop. Most of the time, startups are usually small and initially financed and operated by a handful of founders or one individual or in some cases with seed funding from the agency supported by the government. As a new company, it could offer product or service that is not currently being offered elsewhere in the market. On the other hand, a IT business incubator is a company that helps new and IT startup companies to develop by providing services such as management training or office space. Digital Bangladesh is a landmark of all young and talented minds carrying passion in the heart for innovation and digital service development with required supports from the Government, specially ICT Division, and Ministry of Posts, Telecommunication and IT and Access-2-Information (A2I) of the Prime Minister’s office. In this article, an exploration of experience is shared based on understanding developed during a recent study visit at South Korea with supports from Asian Development Bank (ADB), EXIM Bank of Korea and KSP project which was held from 07 May 2018 to12 May, 2018 at Seoul, Korea. In this article, experience is shared from visits, meetings, interactions and presentations on ideas along with success stories along with some recommendations.
Korean Techno-parks and Case Study
Professor Rhee of Yeungnam University presented on 9 May 2018 and explained the development of Technoparks in Korea with Gyeongbuk Technopark as case study. Based on the presentation, it has been found that in this competitive global market, knowledge, learning and innovation are the most important factors for competitiveness in the globalizing and knowledge- based economy. A system approach to innovation is an acknowledgement that innovations are carried out through a network of various actors underpinned by an institutional framework. Most innovative activities involve multiple actors and stem from combining complementary and specialized competencies and knowledge of various actors. The synergy that arises from the combination of complementary knowledge of dissimilar firms and knowledge organizations and the need for firms to cope with the increasing dependency upon their environment, are the driving force for the emergence of innovative collaborative agreements and cluster formation.
As per the discussion, the concept of Innovation System (IS) is based upon the interactive model of innovation. The key feature of the concept is that an economy’s ability to generate innovations does not only depend on how individual actors for example firms, universities, organizations, research institutes, governmental institutions, etc perform, but rather on how they interact as parts of a system. Therefore innovation is seen as a social process that evolves most successfully in a network in which intensive interaction exists between the suppliers and buyers of goods, services, knowledge and technology, including public knowledge infrastructure organization such as universities and public knowledge producing agents.
In a paper presented by Prof Seo in Nepal, it has been found that Techno-park: the Korean version of Science Park, is a technologically intensive industry park which puts every essential function on a single spot for effective high-tech industry development. In other words, in a techno-park, R&D, business incubation, education, business support and production functions could be done in a way of one-stop activities under one roof. In December 1997, the Korean government designated six role models or examplar techno-parks to implement these functions. In order to put more speed on the project, the government even ruled a special supportive law which could remove time-consuming bureaucratic barriers for the plan. Such a government policy was aimed to improve Korean technological innovative base and its infrastructure and to activate regional economy through region-based technology innovation system. In addition, it had a mission of upgrading regional economy through networking among industries, academia, research centers and local governments. Each techno-park established its own organization or foundation; in turn, it led to the participation of local governments, colleges, research centers and enterprises.
Originally, techno-park as center of regional technology innovation was established in order to mainly function as high-tech industrial complexes and thus develop regional economy. That is, they were established mainly according to the following effects on both technology and economy:
- Techno-park would accelerate technology innovation through networking amongst industry, colleges, and research centers of the region and generate synergy effect while establishing clustered infrastructures of the region.
- Techno-park project could be a means of using the human resources of academia and others directly to enhance global competitiveness as well as a center for developing high technology and regionally specialized technology.
- Techno-park could give an opportunity to reinforce collaboration and fellowship between participants.
- Techno-park could enhance technology innovation of regional industry through technology support for SMEs.
- Techno-park project could boost the regional economy and enhance national competitiveness through industry development based on high technology.
- Techno-park project could encourage activation of regional economy through supporting start-up business, transforming industry structures, attracting foreign high tech companies, creating more jobs, and increasing income taxes.
At present, 16 Techno-parks established Korea Techno-park Association (KTA) to share information and their common concerns. KTA has built network for information exchange and common projects. [source: Prof Seo]
Seoul Startup Hub
Seoul Startup Hub, a place for entrepreneur, startups, and stakeholders to meet and interact within an eco-system to determine success factors. Seoul Startup Hub provides essentially an eco-system for the startup and entrepreneur to develop business model, pilot and grow with the scale-up through intensive mentorship and guidance within the given time frame. The time frame last from 1-2 years from the date of registrations.
The 12 storied Seoul Startup Hub layout is shown below:
Seoul Startup Hub, as shown above in the figure provides unique opportunity for IT business innovation and sustainability. The hub provides free co-working space with consulting centers, café and other amenities. Besides, the partners supporting funding of startups are connected and linked to business developments. The hub classifies startups in three categories: Prospects Startups called Pre-BI [BI: Business Intelligence] which are selected through careful scrutiny, Early Startups (BI) and Growth after BI categories. All these startups get their space suite in Enterprise Incubating Space for a specified period from 4th till 8th floor of Startup Hub. Digital Bangladesh drives through Startup Bangladesh need to create such an eco-system and like Seoul Startup Hub for continuous IT innovation and business development for the needs of the regional development.
Pangyo Techno Valley
Pangyo Techno Valley (PTV) is an industrial complex in the city of Pangyo, Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, South Korea. It is also known as the Silicon Valley of Asia. The complex focuses on information technology, biotech, cultural technology and fusion technology. One of the benefits of the diversity of fields and businesses is the maximized growth potential in the field of high-tech technology through exchanges between the companies. The location within a major metropolitan area creates synergy effects because of the proximity to other techno valleys or adjacent knowledge-based infrastructure clusters in the province. The business environment of the PTV is supported by the government of the Gyeonggi Province through the implementation of various support facilities as for examples a R&D center or public support center. [Source: Wikipedia]
Pangyo Techno Valley project was initiated in 2004 and the final plan was approved in 2006. Constructions were done between 2006 and 2012. There are 900+ companies and a total of 70,000+ employees in that area. The maximum capacity is 90,000+ people. Biggest gaming companies in Korea are located in Pangyo. Many companies moved from Gangnam District in Seoul to Pangyo. Among the reasons are cheaper land prices and the local government’s support system. Land and property in Pangyo is half as expensive as Gangnam. Seongnam supports
companies and start-ups with proactive measures to develop a successful business. [Source: Internet]
Soongsil University's root trace back to 1897, when Dr. W. M. Baird, an American missionary started teaching from his residence in Pyong Yang and was then given the title of the first university in Korea. Later during the Japanese occupation and Korea lost its sovereignty, Soongsil University made national liberalization its top priority and took the lead in the national independence movement. In 1938, the school even decided to close down in protest against forced worship at Japanese shrines. Even throughout Korea's tumultuous history, Soongsil has always striven to be the first. [Source: Internet]
Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)
KAIST was established in 1971 to model a research focused university and to foster elite human resources in science and technology needed by the nation. [Source: Internet]
Since its inception, KAIST has always maintained a larger population of graduate students than undergraduates, positioning itself as a research-oriented university. KAIST undergraduates, comprising the majority of the entrants into the university’s graduate programs, are on par with the best in the world.
About 70% of admitted undergraduate students come from Korean science magnet high schools. Each one of these schools accepts about 100 students per year out of 600,000 middle school graduates.
KAIST graduates have demonstrated extraordinary leadership in the fields of research, academia, business, and public service. Among the holders of KAIST doctoral degrees, 41% are in their 20’s. KAIST graduates also hold 20% of all engineering doctorates and 10% of all engineering professorships in Korea. Many KAIST graduates are now professors of overseas universities such as MIT, Harvard, and New York University. Nearly 25% of the research and development personnel at Samsung Electronics are KAIST Ph.D. holders. [Source: Internet]
KAIST has led the movement to invigorate the venture culture in order to successfully solve the national problem regarding job creation and cultivation of a growth engine, and plan to conduct the following duties:
- Create an entrepreneurial culture based on science and technology
- Construct a growth ecosystem supporting all phases of the start-ups growth: Found- Grow-Collect (M&A etc.)-Retry
- Discover globally-sustainable startups with immense potential and strengthen sustainability
Thoughts for Continued Development
Based on the visits, interactions, presentations, observations, sharing of experience and understanding on this rich development pathway of South Korea in the field of IT, the following key agenda expected to drive the momentum and growth of Digital Bangladesh:
- Develop and transform Startup Bangladesh following the concept of Seoul Startup Hub for immediate success in the present scenario
- Develop regional Startup Hub Bangladesh at different divisional head quarter to help decentralized and distributed IT innovation led business development
- Integrate HEIs teachers with IT/ITES companies as advisor or consultant with a view to bring research contributions and up skilling for new technologies which will reduce the gap between IT industry and academia
- Develop eco-system for Idea incubation to business development for UIG (University-
Industry and Government) framework
- Develop IT incubation center at each university connecting UIG framework integrating SME and other business entities
- Develop venture promotion aspects in the form of institutional support for R&D, University, IT Industry and Business
The author expressed sincere thanks and gratitude to Asian Development Bank, EXIM Bank of Korea and KSP to facilitate and drive the entire study program in Korea.
By Prof Syed Akhter Hossain
Head, Department of Computer Science and Engineering
Daffodil International University, Bangladesh
Honorary Professor, Amity University, India