The outbreak of COVID-19 marked the beginning of an economic turmoil around the world, making overseas business deals and expansions particularly difficult during these socially-isolating times. The Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region has been exceptionally hard-hit, currently facing its worst economic downturn in two centuries and accounting for approximately 28 percent of all deaths globally caused by the coronavirus. In order to combat their challenges, Born2Global Centre, the Korean government’s deep tech startup incubator and accelerator under the Ministry of Science and ICT, has collaborated with the IDB Lab, an innovation laboratory of the Inter-American Development Bank Group, to launch an initiative that would revitalize the region’s economy through the promotion of a sustainable startup ecosystem with this unprecedented program to support bilateral partnerships between deep-tech startups.

 

The objective of this drive was to identify potential startup pairs that originate from opposite sides of the world to form a partnership with the aim to not only expand their businesses but to also create a social impact in the LAC region. The startup pairs that are deemed to have the most imminent impact in their respective industries were approved by the IDB Lab to receive an equity-free grant fund of $120,000 in accelerating the initial stages of their collaborative partnership.

 

The successful approval of the five startup pairs has been crucial proof that despite pandemic-related restrictions, intercontinental partnerships between startups is possible, opening doors for new possibilities in collaborative efforts. The innovative startup pairs approved by IDB Lab to receive the $120,000 grant funds are as follows:

 

  • Advance-Adelanta tu pago - Shopl & Company : Advance, a fintech startup aiming to help employees receive their salaries in advance and to financially educate their users, and Shopl & Company, an innovative staff management platform, intend to integrate both their solutions together into a one-stop platform, leveraging their technological differences, as well as their diverse clientele.

 

  • Avancargo- Coconut Silo : Both Avancargo and Coconut Silo hold different solutions to solving the same logistical problems in the freight transportation industry. Together, they will tackle the existing complications, with Coconut Silo providing APIs and technological support in order to enhance Avancargo’s features. 

 

  • Maestrik - Riiid : Together, they will create a personalized English course for a new revolutionary English-learning platform, powered by Riiid’s AI technology, to help users learn English faster, better, and economically, so that those in the lower socioeconomic bracket can also be given the opportunity to learn a new language effectively and efficiently.

 

  • Proximity - Virnect : Proximity is a Peruvian startup utilizing AR/VR technology to provide training to industrial workers before they are dispatched to conduct their jobs onsite. Implementing Virnect’s AR and digital twin technologies, together they will focus on not only improving the training modules but also allow workers to improve the efficiency and quality of their onsite remote works.

 

  • Wheel the World - Dot : Using Dot’s technology for the visually-impaired and Wheel The World’s Accessibility Mapping System, they will collaboratively develop a Touristic Product that will allow travelers with visual disabilities to get a smooth and touchless travel experience with all the accurate accessibility information.

 

Born2Global Centre’s local partner in Mexico, Centraal, is a leading accelerator in LAC that is entrusted to take the lead and guide the startups throughout their joint journey. They will provide necessary assistance that the startups need in regards to the expansion of their businesses, as well as the social impact of the partnership on the LAC region.

 

JongKap Kim, the Chief Executive Director of Born2Global Centre stated, “The joint venture-type partnerships between startups created through the Korea-LAC Deep Tech Exchange program with IDB Lab was a challenging attempt to promote collaborative R&DB amid the pandemic.”

 

He added, “The intercontinental startup pairs were created as the result of an unprecedented endeavor under contact-free, physically-distanced conditions. The LAC was always considered as a distant market for Korea, but this barrier was overcome through an innumerable number of online meetups conducted by Born2Global Centre assisted by the proactiveness of the partners and startups in both regions.”

 

The Korean startups were matched with their LAC counterparts through online meetups since October 2020, identifying suitable local partners without physically traveling to LAC. The identified pairs have been approved to receive a grant from the IDB Lab to conduct their joint partnerships in pursuit of their business expansion, putting focus on the social impact they will have across the LAC region.

 

Born2Global Centre will continue to focus on providing a diverse set of global market acceleration and consultancy programs, as well as the continuous effort in discovering new ways of helping startups expand their business on a global scale.

 


 

 

Born2Global Centre signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Innpulsa Colombia, a startup accelerator and incubator under the Ministry of Trade and Tourism of Colombia, on the 16th to develop a joint venture business model between Korea and Colombia and to attract global investments.

 

According to the agreement, Born2Global Centre will spearhead efforts to strengthen joint venture partnerships that will help foster businesses in Latin America through on- and offline  meetups and events centered around tech-matching and collaborations amongst deep-tech startups in Korea and Colombia.

 

In doing so, there will simultaneously be collaborative promotions between the deep-tech startups of both countries to support mutual market entry, knowledge exchanges through events and programs, and global investments into these joint ventures. 

 

Jong Kap Kim, the Chief Executive Director of the Born2Global Centre, said, “Colombia is a major player in the Latin American startup ecosystem, alongside Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and Chile and is a highly strategic entry point for Korean innovative tech startups expanding into the Latin American market.”

 

Furthermore, he added that “through the agreement with Innpulsa Colombia, Born2Global Centre will actively develop cooperative projects to help Korean companies enter Colombia, as well as to provide all-around support in discovering Korean-Colombian startup joint ventures and investment connections.

 

Meanwhile, Born2Global Centre has also been working with the IDB Lab since last year to operate the 'LAC-Korea Deep Tech Exchange Program' in discovering and matching top innovative Latin American and Korean tech companies.

 

Through this joint venture project from Latin America, candidates discovered through online meetups are to submit a partnership proposal and upon approval from the IDB Lab, consultations and funds that contribute toward a joint venture will be provided.

 

Born2Global Centre held more than 7 online meetups with Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Bolivia, and Peru until March, and through these sessions, five Korea-Latin American startup joint venture partnerships were formed.


 

Born2Global Centre has been hosting a series of LAC-Korea startup online meet-ups as part of the Deep Tech Exchange Program of the IDB Lab to continuously engage Latin American and Caribbean countries for potential partnership opportunities.

Through this initiative, Born2Global Centre provides the platform for respective startups from each country to meet potential partners in expansion of their businesses with the professional support and accompaniment of fundamental consultations and services.

So far, already four countries - Argentina, Colombia, Mexico and Bolivia - have partaken in this virtual series, as Born2Global Centre continues to organize these meet-ups with partner organizations to identify and match startups based on respective needs. 

 

In the Mexico-Korea session, there were six Mexican startups and three Korean startups from Agtech, Edtech, AI, and Big Data sectors participating in the round table discussions, jointly hosted with Centraal and Seedstars, two renowned accelerators in the region. For the Bolivia-Korea session, there were four Bolivian startups and four Korean startups from Education, AI, Construction, Mobility and Big Data sectors discussing potential innovative joint solutions, hosted alongside the Asociación de Emprendedores de Bolivia (ASEB).

 

Six more countries are scheduled in the lineup throughout March and April, and after the meet-ups will be the LAC-Korea Partnership Prototype Pitch Challenge, Startup Global Forum, and Partnership Prototype Symposium as a follow-up methodology by Born2Global Centre to ensure successful forging of partnerships for positive social impact to the LATAM region.


 


Bon2Global Centre organized a webinar on the theme of Innovation Ecosystem of Korea and Israel with Ministerio de Economía (MINEC), IDB Lab and Start-Up Nation Central.

 

This seminar was held at the request of the Minister of Economy, El Salvador. Israel’s government is leveraging, seeking innovative technology companies as one of the solutions to support the resumption of the national economy. The webinar focused on the creation of a startup ecosystem hosted by IDB and the transmission of Korean best practices on how to leverage startups in response to COVID-19.

 

 

Born2Global Centre shared cases of successful startup support and strategic ecosystem formation to foster Korean innovative technology companies.

 

Several cases of successful response to COVID-19 through innovative technology were also shared at the webinar. In addition, Born2Global Centre introduced strategies for global expansion through formation of joint venture (JV) between startups around the world and Korean innovative technology companies. Start-Up Central also delivered their success story through the Israeli innovation ecosystem and startup support.

 

Korean companies that took a preemptive response with innovative technologies in the COVID-19, such as LINKFLOW (Wearable 360 camera), Riiid (AI education solution), and Dtonic (Spatio-temporal big data solutions) received much attention and raised expectations for possible collaboration with companies in Latin America.

 

LINKFLOW is a company that has supplied more than 20,000 wearable 360 cameras, FITT360, to Wuhan, China, which was designated as the epicenter of COVID-19. If a person in a protective suit wears the FITT360, remote medical technology can be used, reducing the possibility of infection through face-to-face contact.

 

Dtonic's spatio-temporal big data processing and analysis technology was used in the COVID-19 epidemiological investigation support system.

 

As the need for effective non-face-to-face learning solutions in the education market is increasing,

Riiid is spreading positive influence through their AI-based learning solution in response to closed education institutions due to COVID-19.



 

Jongkap Kim, Chief Executive Director of the Bon2Global Centre, said, “Even though Latin America is a place with high appeal, in reality, Korean companies were unable to actively enter due to physical and psychological distance.” He added, “We can overcome limitations, by efficiently localizing our products with services and continue our preparations for non-face-to-face exchanges between major innovation ecosystem officials in Latin America and Korean companies.”



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