Korea’s Ministry of SMEs and startups’ popular ‘unicorn’ nurturing program ‘Baby Unicorn 200 Nurturing Project’ has selected 41 additional companies for the ‘Baby Unicorn 200 Fostering Project’ in 2022. The project enrolled 60 startups in the early half of 2022. The selection of the Baby Unicorn 200 fostering project is expected to grow explosively in the future by targeting startups with competitive products or services that are about to complete R&D.
The 100 companies that were selected and supported by 2021 (40 in 2020, 60 in the first half of 2021) have approximately doubled (91.4%↑) in average employment after selection and 2.5 times (149.6%↑) in sales. In addition, 60 of 100 companies attracted 676.7 billion won/$ 476 million (11.3 billion won/$7.9 million per company).
The competition in the second half of this year recorded an all-time high of 8.4:1, reflecting the rapid growth of baby unicorns. The 41 selected companies had an average business experience of 4.2 years and sales of 3.03 billion won/$2.1 million. By industry, they consist of 18 ICT-based platform companies and 15 bio-health companies. The selected companies all received a grade of A or higher in the technology feasibility evaluation of the Korea Technology Guarantee Fund, and 11 companies were identified that received the highest grade, AAA.
Among the selected companies, RCE is an online platform operating company that directly connects heavy equipment consumers and suppliers. RCE’s primary target market is Vietnam, a second-hand heavy equipment market (market size estimated at 3 trillion won), growing at an annual rate of 7%. The startup has achieved annual sales of 4.5 billion won/$3.1 million in two years after entering Vietnam.
Pion Corporation is another selected company that sells software that enables marketing video production by providing only data such as photos, videos, and company URLs of products to be advertised. With Pion’s program, a small Korean mart in Dubai has been able to produce 500 marketing videos per month.
Curaum was founded by a doctoral graduate in the medical field as a company producing medical devices for the treatment of sleep apnea. It measures the patient’s data through an oral, implantable device. It transmits it to the medical staff in charge of the patient by mobile to help the medical staff present the optimal treatment plan for the patient.
Foren is a remanufacturing company of electric vehicle waste batteries that started as an in-house venture of the Hyundai Motor Company. It is gradually expanding its business model using the battery residual value evaluation AI algorithm secured in the remanufacturing process for insurance and used car sales.
The Ministry of SMEs and Startups provides a total of 12 follow-up programs, such as new market development funds (up to 300 million won), special guarantees (up to 5 billion won), and policy funds (up to 10 billion won) for selected companies to overcome the high risk of failure in the early stages of startups and support sustainable growth.
Minister Lee Young said, “From next year, we plan to intensively reinforce support programs for global advancement so that baby unicorn companies can compete with the world’s leading companies in overseas markets, beyond the situation in which baby unicorn companies settle in the narrow domestic market and compete with small business owners.”
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