Yozma Group, a renowned Israeli venture capital initiative that transformed the country into a thriving startup ecosystem, said on Monday that it will launch a $990 million global fund over the next three years for South Korean startups. As part of the investment plan, Yozma also plans to establish a ‘Yozma Startup Campus’ in Korea. The group is reviewing Seoul, Incheon, and Gyeonggi province as potential locations for the Campus.
With the goal of helping South Korean startups expand their reach to overseas markets, Yozma is looking toward South East Asia as its first target, to leverage the established popularity of K-pop in the region.
Yozma expects to focus its investment in companies within the digital security sector. The group has expressed that it perceives great market potential from South Korea’s world-renowned communication infrastructure, political situation with North Korea, and mass availability of online data services.
“I think Korea already has reached a more advanced technological level than its fellow Asian countries,” said Yigal Erlich, the founder and managing partner of Yozma Group. “Foreign investors like us think that the main reason that the Korean start-up market has remained weak is not the technology. It is a problem of globalization.”
“[Foreign investors] certainly recognize the power of Korea, which nurtured global companies like Samsung and LG,” continued Erlich. “We think that Yozma will be able to grow Korean start-ups into the second and third Samsung.”
The size of ‘Yozma Startup Campus’ will be approximately 71,160 square feet. The group is considering building its Campus in the Kaesong Industrial Complex, or close to the DMZ to promote cooperation between the two Koreas. Yozma also plans to expand their campuses to Singapore, Indonesia, and other countries to build an international network for greater exchange and cross-border investments.
The South Korean government views the Yozma Fund to play a critical role in leading its Creative Economy initiative, a policy plan pledged by the current administration to promote growth fed by bottom-up technological innovation. Yozma, meaning ‘initiative’ in Hebrew, was created by the Israeli government in 1993. It has since established several venture capital funds that collectively have a successful track record.
Currently, the opportunities for startups in Korea are growing at a tremendous rate. Major investments in startups from domestic VC firms such as D.Camp, Maru180, DreamEnter, Startup Alliance, have surged in recent years. Meanwhile, Google (opening ‘Campus Seoul’ in 2015), and other foreign venture capital firms are joining Yozma with respective plans to contribute to talent development in the Korean startup market. These initiatives, aligned with the current administration’s pro-startup and venture policies, is expected to create further excitement in the country’s startup market.
–Inspired by Platum