BMW Group entered the South Korean market by setting up a subsidiary in 1995. For the next 25 years, they have built a strong presence in South Korea and have invested over $350 million to date. This has led to thousands of new jobs and new facilities across Korea. Recently, there has been a strong push by BMW to make South Korea a focal point for their business. Last year, BMW partnered with South Korea to unveil the new 5 and 6 Series sedans in South Korea which they did despite the pandemic. This goes to show how important the South Korean market is to BMW. In addition, BMW Group Korea currently works with over 500 local suppliers in Korea and is actively looking to promote innovative startups in Korea.  

BMW Korea Looks to Discover Innovative Korean Startups

BMW Korea partnered with KITA, Gyeonggi Creative Economy Innovation Center, and Future Play to find innovative startups in Korea and to promote the BMW Testbed Project. All will actively cooperate through the project to provide startups in Korea with a testbed and resources for technology verification, proof of concept, and big data. For example, Seoul Robotics a mobility startup in Korea is conducting joint research to develop an infrastructure system that realizes smart solutions for BMW manufacturing facilities.

BMW Startup Garage

BMW Startup Garage

While in South Korea, there have also been talks of finding innovative startups in Korea that can be a part BMW Startup Garage Program. The BMW Startup Garage is BMW’s innovation division that looks for innovative startups from around the world that BMW can potentially work with.

The program started back in 2015 and so far over 50 startups have completed the program. On average around 700 startups are assessed every year and only a select few get to participate in the BMW Startup Garage program. It is located in Garching at the BMW Group Research and Technology House. However, due to COVID-19, there are talks to take the program online. This is great news for startups in Korea that want to form a partnership with one of the biggest automobile brands in the world. 

Not just for Mobility Startups

In the first few years of the BMW Startup Garage program, startups needed to be able to add something that will benefit BMW’s products, services, systems, or processes. However, the program soon extended to startup innovations for all business units. Therefore, the program is not restricted to mobility startups. The program is about finding new innovations and as long as your product or service can bring value to what BMW is doing, there is no reason for startups now to apply. Best of all, the program focuses on helping startups develop a working prototype as part of a pilot project. This is one of the major hurdles of early-stage startups. They have a great idea but don’t have the resources to make that idea a reality. 

So what is in it for BMW? The BMW Group will get instant and direct access to the innovations that come out of the BMW Startup Garage. The startups will be able to get a valuable big brand partner and gain key insights into the automotive processes. In addition, they will be able to access BMW’s vast network within the automotive industry. 

BMW’s presence in Korea continues to grow

BMW Group Korea continues to grow. Now they are able to allocate resources to finding new talent across Korea. What better way to find talent than targeting new innovative startups in Korea. BMW already has a long-term supply contract with Samsung SDI for their battery cells. These battery cells will be used for their upcoming electric vehicles. This goes to show that BMW is always looking to bring something new to its customers. BMW Group Korea plans to invest $55 million until 2023 in expanding its local logistics center.

BMW Group Korea

Currently, the logistics center in Pyeongtaek (South of Seoul) is able to accommodate 18,000 vehicles. In 2021, BMW Group Korea which sells BMW, MINI, and Rolls-Royce models sold a little under 77,000 units which are 11% more than they did in 2020. Simply put, BMW is not slowing down in Korea. Startups looking to partner with BMW should look into BMW Startup Garage because that will be their easiest road to not just BMW but their vast network.