On November 21, KAIST announced the establishment of Startup KAIST, a program that aims to foster an entrepreneurial culture at the university by functioning as a one-stop venture support platform for students and laboratories alike. It was declared upon evaluation that the newly created enterprises and programs offered by the Korean government and domestic universities are insufficient, following which KAIST President Sung Mo Kang held 10 “Conferences to Revitalize Start-up Businesses,” leading to the foundation of Startup KAIST. The KAIST Herald got in contact with the Technology Business Incubation Center to find out more.
|▲ The general layout of the Startup KAIST Studio located on the third floor of W8 building | KAIST PR Team
Which administrative departments are involved in the Startup KAIST program?
The Technology Business Incubation Center (TBIC), the KAIST Center for Innovation Initiatives, and the Center for Science-based Entrepreneurship are all involved in Startup KAIST.
What is Startup KAIST’s purpose? What prompted the creation of this enterprise?
The Startup KAIST program was initiated in order to achieve a number of goals. Firstly, it aims to establish a culture of entrepreneurial mindset with a base in science and technology. Also, Startup KAIST will construct an ecosystem that supports every aspect of a new company’s growth cycle, and discover companies with significant global market potential and help develop them, leading to the creation of new jobs and providing a solution to the national problem of discovering and nurturing growth engines. Startup KAIST will allow our university to play a leading role in such matters. Additionally, Startup KAIST integrates the various separate startup support programs, as well as programs scheduled for a later date, into a one-stop service for new student companies.
Are there many people at KAIST who are thinking of startups? How interested are our students in creating startups of their own?
In the case of the E5-KAIST program, which is run by the TBIC, 36 students in 11 teams participated in 2012, and 91 students in 32 teams participated this year to test out their startup ideas. As for the special entrepreneurial lectures given by KAIST alumni chief executive officers (CEOs), attendance levels reach 50 to 80 students for each lecture. In addition to these, there also exist other programs such as Creation Campus and the University 500 Project where students come up with ideas for their own startups. The Startup KAIST kick-off event and groundbreaking ceremony on November 21 saw many students attend, which is a testament to the rising interest the student body has in start-ups.
Are there any concrete plans for Startup KAIST?
Startup Space, which is the place where the Startup KAIST program will be located, should be made available for the program by March 2014. Startup Space will provide a place for students to further develop their entrepreneurial ideas and be given opportunities to form the networking needed for commercialization. Additionally, competitive exhibitions, entrepreneur camps, venture mentoring services, and other programs both direct and indirect will be made available following a systematic schedule. The programs, which are formed under the mission of creating a venture ecosystem and creative economy by taking advantage of INNOPOLIS Daedeok’s specialized resources and infrastructure, fall under three broad headings of Education, Execution, and Infra.
Is Startup KAIST receiving any support or funding from governmental or other organizations?
As previously mentioned, Startup KAIST is a campaign initiated internally by our university to facilitate startups. As of yet, the program receives no support from external organizations, governmental or otherwise, but in the near future, the program is hoped to expand to Startup KAIST-to-Global. This expanded program will serve as a pillar of global innovation, pursuing cooperation with industries and universities both nationally and internationally. The Startup KAIST-to-Global is expected to naturally lead to interest and direct support from both KAIST and external sources.
Do you have anything to say to students dreaming of forming their own startups?
B. C. Forbes, the founder of Forbes Magazine, once said, “The victors of the battles of tomorrow will be those who can best harness thought to action.” As Forbes suggests, any student seriously considering a startup should get involved in the various startup support programs available at the university to actually try it out. I would like to encourage students to learn and grow as a person from any failures, take time to assess their dreams and goals, and work towards achieving those dreams.