Born2Global, Leading a New Era of Global Joint Venture Partnerships

Even before the global economic shocks of COVID-19, the global investment landscape for startups was experiencing a ground-breaking shift.

2019 saw more investment from major players like SoftBank and Sequoia Capital into rising markets including China, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. Investors are constantly in search of the next major market disruptor, and while global investment trends change in response to market conditions, support for startups to grow and expand remains robust. Korea is no exception, with government investment opportunities for startups continuing to expand and diversify. The Korean government allocated $1.4 billion USD in 2021 for startup support projects, fostering the development and management of more than 194 programs for SMEs and startups.

Thanks to a robust policy environment supporting the development of emerging Digital Transformation technologies, Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) is also implementing startup support budgetary programs. As part of the shift towards globalizing Korea’s startups, the MSIT introduced a new program to support deep tech-based companies for their global market entry in the form of binational joint ventures (JV) in 2021.

Technology Joint Venture Partnerships — Creating a Win-Win Global Innovation Ecosystem

Why take Korea’s tech startups overseas through binational JV partnerships? Even as the recent COVID crisis exposed gaps in the global supply chain, it highlighted the delicate interdependence of global markets and emphasized the importance of international cooperation. JV partnerships have been gaining attention and popularity in recognition of the robust benefits that they can offer to both businesses and local economies. Joint ventures can provide innovative startups with additional resources, expanded capacity, enhanced technical expertise, and access to established markets and distribution channels that they would have a difficult time breaking into otherwise.

Korean companies that have succeeded in JV overseas partnerships have been able to enter markets where they need technology or products with limited resources. The potential for economic benefits resulting from technology transfer and local business growth have led to growing interest and collaboration between governments, institutions, and ecosystem stakeholders in these JV-supported projects. In other words, the JV overseas startup expansion model fosters a win-win sustainable technology innovation ecosystem.

To foster a virtuous startup ecosystem and fill market gaps both in Korea and abroad, the Korean government has continued to expand its support for JV partnerships between Korean and overseas startups. Opportunities for investment, partnership and expansion into the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region for Korean startups have recently attracted particular attention thanks to the success of a joint program between the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Lab and Korea’s Born2Global Centre to create and support binational JV startup partnerships. The success of the JV overseas startup expansion model between Korean companies and startups in this region over the past several years was so notable that it was cited when JV overseas startup expansion was specifically named in the Korean government’s 2021 economic policy and incorporated into the policies of the latter half of that year. 

While the KOR-LAC JV partnership prototypes faced challenges including time, language, and culture differences, the five pairs that were selected have thus far enjoyed impressive success. For example, the Korean startup Coconut Silo, a logistic freight transportation company aimed at connecting drivers directly with suppliers using AI, partnered with Avancargo, an Argentinian B2B platform for freight logistics. The two companies integrated their APIs and technology to expand quickly, and anticipate that their innovative algorithm will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cargo shipping

Overall, the success of the LAC Deep Tech Exchange Program thus far has highlighted not only the possibilities of successful startup overseas expansion through JVs, but also the essential role played by the companies that perform matching and support services for these startups. A Korean organization, Organizations like Born2Global Centre has played a pivotal role in making this innovative program possible. So, who is Born2Global Centre, and why have they become the primary entity to assist Korean tech startups with overseas JV matchmaking?

Born2Global Centre Makes Jumping into a JV Overseas Expansion Partnership as Easy as 1, 2, 3

Founded in 2013, Born2Global Centre focuses on facilitating deep-tech partnerships between Korean startups and overseas partners and has a long history of mediating successful JV matches, especially in D.N.A (Data, Network, AI) technologies and relevant industrial domains. In addition to its valuable contributions to the LAC Deep Tech Exchange Program, Born2Global has facilitated successful JVs between companies from Korea and companies from China, the United States, Vietnam, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Bolivia, and more.

The Centre offers an annual, year-long program for over 200 startups with several sources of support. Each startup that participates in the binational JV support program receives services (business management consulting, PMF consulting, etc.), a maximum of $80,000 USD in funding, and assistance finding and verifying appropriate overseas partners, as well as help navigating laws, accounting and taxation issues, applying for intellectual property protection, and creating a local marketing strategy. Established JVs can receive help with local settlement and growth, including support in the areas provided for nascent startups as well as business development and investment attraction support. In other words, working with Born2Global also offers startups access to essential resources once they connect with an overseas partner for a JV.

Since its establishment, Born2Global has helped more than 2,962 startups. They have successfully facilitated the overseas incorporation of 112 startups, filed 996 global patent and trademark applications, and attracted over 2.98 billion dollars of domestic and global investment for member startups. Born2Global has ushered two of its members, Sendbird and Riiid, along the path to unicorn status. It is currently nurturing another ten potential unicorns, including the Korean companies GreenLabs, Dable, Qraft, and Ssenstone.

Born2Global’s proven track record of success makes it an ideal partner for startups seeking a JV partnership with an overseas company. Its support model has been successful time and time again. Born2Global is always open to foreign companies interested in partnering with innovative, Korean startups as well as public-private partners who want to increase the quality and number of local tech businesses in their community. If you or your organization is interested in pursuing an exciting new partnership, contact Born2Global Centre today to learn more about current and future opportunities.