Korea Startup Forum (Chairman Jae-wook Park, hereinafter referred to as KSF) revealed that the ‘COMEUP 2022’ held for three days from November 9th to the 11th, at Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) has successfully come to an end amid enthusiastic response from the startup ecosystem.
Starting from this year, COMEUP 2022 switched to the ‘privately led – government assist’ system, and newly emerged as an event where the startup ecosystem is the main character. In March, the Korea Startup Forum, the largest startup organization in Korea, was selected to be the managing organization and was put in charge of planning and operating the entire event. A total of 52 ecosystem officials including startups, investors, global corporations, major companies, etc. joined as advisors to form the program and the participants.
Through this, around 250 domestic and foreign startup ecosystem officials from 19 countries participated in the COMEUP 2022, which flourished with the total number of live online broadcasts and on-site visitors over the three days, recording around 57,000 man-days.
◆ Future Talk: Regulatory Reform, Cold Season for Investments, Talent Recruitment… ‘Real’ Story of Startups
Under the slogan, ‘We Move the World,’ COMEUP 2022’s conference session ‘Future Talk’ which advocated ‘the most startup like event in the world’, received favorable reviews for its in-depth and sharp views on major issues the startup ecosystem has been focusing on recently.
In particular, the fireside chat, which was held under the theme of ‘Top 3 Startup Issues in 2022’, between the Minister of SMEs and Startups Young Lee, who used to be an entrepreneur, and KSF Chairman Jae-wook Park (CEO of Socar, Chairman of the COMEUP 2022 Advisory Committee) on opening day, attracted attention.
Minister Young Lee chose ‘regulatory reform’ and ‘global’ as this year’s key word, and emphasized “Even if conflict occurs, we will boldly release (regulations) to create a foothold for startups to grow”, “We must widen the field we’re running on so that global companies can emerge”. Chairman Jae-wook Park mentioned ‘survival’ as the major keyword and emphasized, “In times like this, when the economic recession is continuing for a long time, it’s more important to look to how we can survive and how we can actually take our next step rather than pursuing growth.”
As the cold season of startup investment continues, the sessions regarding how to survive attracted more attention. Through various topics, such as ‘Will there be a Series B for us?’, ‘Where is the end to the long winter?’, ‘The rules of the game changed – Road to survival’. ‘What investment strategies does CVC have this winter?’, discussions took place on facing the reality, voice of self-examination, and where to invest despite, in order to survive.
Heated discussion on these topics through lectures and panel talks by startups and investors including Spoon Radio CEO Hyuk-Jae Choi, Tictoccroc CEO Hee-Jung Kim, Envisioning Partners CEO Hyun-Joo Je, Magnus Grimeland, the founder of Antler, a global investor, and director Sung-Hwa Lee of GS Retail drew the attention
Besides that, discussions on various current issues and the future were held, such as regulations that hinder the growth of startups, global expansion, which has become an essential step for the survival of startups, recruitment of talent, which is a startup’s core asset, and ESG, which has been rising as a hot topic recently.
Domestic and foreign ecosystem officials, such as CEO Sung-Jin Choi of KSF (head of the executive committee of COMEUP 2022), CEO Sang-Yeop Han of Sopoong Ventures, Director Yunjung Jin of Softbank Ventures Asia, CEO Klaus Weheage of 10X Innovation Lab, Director Krystal Azelton of Secure World Foundation, and MIT researcher Arnav Kapur participated in the event to exchange opinions and share insights with visitors on topics such as ‘Regulatory innovation desired by startups, when will it be possible’, ‘TOP 5 Global expansion strategies startups must know’, ‘Ways to attract excellent talent needed by startups’, ‘If the earth lives, startups can also live’, ‘The Age of New Humanity’, etc.
◆ Startup Valley: Fierce Pitching Competition to Scale-Up and the First Award Ceremony
The IR pitching competition between the 70 teams of the COMEUP Stars Rookie and Rocket League, who were selected through the highest competition ratio of 12.6 to 1, was the flower of the COMEUP 2022. Particularly for this year’s COMEUP Stars, the unicorn league was newly established in which ten (preliminary) unicorn companies including The Pink Pong Company, My Real Trip, Megazone Cloud, Musinsa, Music Cow, Backpacker, IGA Works, Yanolja, Woowahan Brothers, Deel, etc. participated and held company introduction sessions, sharing their corporate growth know-hows while mentoring the Rookie League.
On the 11th, the last day, the first ever awards ceremony in COMEUP that was held under the name of ‘COMEUP Stars 2022’ caught the eye. From the pitching conducted in a total of ten groups, outstanding companies from each group were selected, which reflected not only the evaluation of the experts who participated in the screening and mentoring but also the votes of the visitors attending. In the Rookie League, △DeepLeHR △XL8 △Ubees Lab △Squeeze Bits △Step Pay, and in the Rocket League, △Airs Medical △XYZ △Smart Mind △Store Link △Quota Lab were honored with the awards.
Also on the 9th and 10th, Young Lee, Minister of SMEs and Startups, and Khalid A. Al-Falih, the Saudi Arabian Minister of Investment, visited the site and drew attention. The two ministers who visited the COMEUP Stars booths experienced the latest technology and services and admired the innovation capabilities of domestic and foreign startups.
◆ OI GROUND: Startups are the Future! Seeking Future Companionship Beyond Coexistence
At the COMEUP 2022, not only startups but also investment companies, CVCs, large corporations, global companies, public institution, and universities, the academia and the industry both started pitching; this was in order to seek a future with the startups. To find partners, companions to go beyond coexistence with, each company conducted an open innovation reverse pitching that suggested business models and tasks to collaborate with startups.
About 20 companies and institutions such as Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motor Company, CJ ENM, Naver, Lotte Ventures, GS Retail, Korea Water Resources Corporation, Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), Smart Study Ventures, Dunamu & Partners, Musinsa Partners, D Camp, Startup Alliance, Google, Microsoft, AWS, and SAP took the stage in large numbers, and some set up exhibition booths and took time to discuss business cooperation with startups.
◆ COMEUP X & Global Cooperation Session: A Venue of Global Exchange
Heightened global status of the COMEUP 2022 could be confirmed through audiences filling up during each of the global cooperation session at the COMEUP X where each corporation selected from major institutions and schools, domestically and from abroad, participated and the startup ecosystem officials from each company did their presentations.
At the COMEUP X session held for three days, startups, selected by the Asem SMEs Eco Innovation Center (ASEIC), Italian Trade Agency (ITA), German Entrepreneurship Asia (GEA), Korea Institute of Design Promotion, Next Unicorn, Innoforest, and Korea University, presented demo days and showed off each of their capabilities.
During the global cooperation session, American Chamber of Commerce in Korea (AMCHAM), The British Department of International Trade in Korea (DIT), Indian Institute of Technology (IIT Kanpur), Tanzania Startup Association took the stage to present and exchange startup policies and trends of each country.
◆ COMEUP 2022 VIP CONFERENCE in Busan
COMEUP 2022 was also held in Busan, which demonstrated coexistence with the local startup ecosystem. On the 11th, the last day, at the ‘COMEUP 2022 VIP Conference in Busan’ held at the Marine Hall, the Bay 101, Haeundae-Gu, Busan, General Manager Mike Kim of APAC from Google for Startups, CEO Klaus Weheage, who participated in the lectures and the panel talk at the DDP, General Manager Marta Allina of GEA, and CEO Jaehun Eum of GFT Ventures were in attendance.
They opened new horizons of COMEUP through lectures on the ‘Support for Global Expansion for Entrepreneurs’, ‘Global Expansion Strategy for Local Startups’, ‘Global Strategy for Korean Startups’, ‘A Foreigner’s View on the Local Startup Ecosystem’, and Q&A sessions with the audience.
Sung-Jin Choi, the head of the COMEUP 2022 Executive Committee said, “Thank you for the great interest and support from startups and ecosystem officials for the first private-led COMEUP. Based on this year, we will further develop through listening to various voices of more startups till the day COMEUP becomes one of the top 5 startup events globally.
COMEUP 2022 will continue to monitor the performance and support the meetings between companies that applied for business matching, and for COMEUP Stars, the selected companies. Replays of the main programs that were held over the three days on site will be available for viewing on the official COMEUP YouTube Channel at the end of November.