Friday, July 24, 2015

Korea's creative economy and startup ecosystem: a personal note

Those who check this blog on occasion will know that my posts have been few and far between for the past month or so.  This is not for lack of interesting developments here in Korea.  To the contrary, so much has happened that I simply haven't had the time to share it with you.  However, I can report that the creative economy initiative of the Park Geun-hye administration appears to be alive and well.
In late June, as reported in an earlier post, I was in the island province of Jeju for meetings and research relating to South Korea's smart grid initiative.  Coincidentally, President Park Geun-hye visited Jeju City to dedicate another innovation center.  More recently, as reported in the  Korea Joongang Daily, the CJ Group joined the central and Seoul city governments in opening another such center, as shown in the accompanying photo.
Almost immediately upon my return to SUNY Korea from Jeju, I welcomed Danny Crichton to our campus for a two week visit, during which he and I co-taught (with Danny doing by far the bulk of the teaching on a subject in which he is already an expert) a Stony Brook University course on "How to Build a Startup."  Our students were 35 Korea University undergraduate juniors and seniors, along with one graduate student from the Department of Technology and Society here.  Danny and I first met when he was a Fulbright student scholar and I was a visiting professor at KAIST in Daejon.  We've stayed in touch and collaborated on different activities since.   Danny has posted much of the course content on his website and I encourage you to take a look at this link or through our SUNY Korea course website here!   The course was a great experience for the instructors, our graduate teaching assistant, Mr. Feng Jin and visitors.   It provided everyone with a fresh perspective on how current Silicon Valley startup practices stack up against one of the central challenges Korea faces to build a creative economy -- breaking into the global market for mobile software content and services!
The creative economy and the important role of startup ventures in it, will not happen in Korea overnight.  The change may indeed be slow and generational.   However, even for someone who lives and works in Korea, there is perceptible movement and change!

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