Koreans are experts at change. Hardly any other society has achieved so much in such a short time (only a few decades). Now, Korean companies are globalizing more actively than ever, supported by government and cluster organizations encouraging Korean start-ups and SME to establish a presence abroad.
The Korean market with its 50 million inhabitants is too small to sustain highly specialized life science, high-tech and IT companies, which is why organizations such as Greater Zurich Area AG (GZA) are welcome to introduce the European perspective. We recently did this in Pangyo Techno Valley near Seoul, probably the most dynamically developing business and research area of whole Korea.
Since 2014 when GZA became active in Korea, a lot has changed already. Business meeting are less formal (no ties), young managers and even CEO speak excellent English since they studied in the US or the UK. Together with our local representative in Seoul (at the forefront of the picture above), we are able to establish strategic partnerships and identifying innovative companies both directly and through such partnerships. During a recent week of company meetings in Korea, we repeatedly visited Pangyo Techno Valley on the outskirts of Seoul, to be reached within only 17 minutes from Gangnam Station. It must be said that during rush hour, ‘Gangnam style’ may mean squeezing into crowded metro cars like elsewhere in Asia, yet the rewards are multiple: biotech companies with their first products on the market and now in ‘expansion mode’, supportive industry associations both private or public, both on national or province level, providing modern infrastructure to promising start-ups and SME (for the ones who know Start-up Schlieren near Zurich: add a brush of color, and you get the idea). Pangyo is full of companies with international aspirations regarding all major business regions including Europe. When we visited one of the dedicated cluster organizations in Pangyo, there was a technology conference going on, and we were introduced to the latest developments of Pangyo’s award-winning high-tech companies (See the gallery below).
At the business meeting after the conference tour, the local cluster organization made it clear that they support only companies with a strong focus abroad, and not only on Asia. We as Greater Zurich Area AG showed them possibilities to leverage Swiss technology and industry partners, and a delegation of this Pangyo-based organization will actually reciprocate our visit to Korea by coming to Zurich later this year. They appreciate Switzerland and especially Greater Zurich as a central location in an economically powerful environment and a market with excellent infrastructure, highly qualified personnel, an outstanding research and development environment, excellent education and recreation opportunities for family members as well as an attractive environment offering a good work-life balance. To anyone from Korea who might read this: We are happy to welcome Korean companies in Switzerland and tailor an appropriate ‘welcome package’ according to their needs.
About the author
Marc Rudolf is Director at Greater Zurich Area AG (GZA) and has broad experience in advising technology and life sciences companies, in particular regarding tax aspects of creating and exploiting intellectual property rights. Prior to his current position, he promoted Swiss technology in the US and later worked with British chartered accountants and lawyers on continental expansion projects. Marc Rudolf has been with Greater Zurich Area AG since 1999. He speaks English, German, French, Spanish, Swedish, Italian, Russian and Portuguese.