COMEUP 2021 is Korea’s largest startup event. It is hosted by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups and took place from November 17-19th at Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP). The Ministry of SMEs and Startups is a Korean government organization that aims to build competitiveness and support innovation for SMEs and startups in Korea. They focus on business growth, fostering tech startups, and supporting micro-enterprises. The organizing committee for COMEUP 2021 included startups, VCs, corporations, and media. The three-day event introduced some of the most innovative startups in Korea.

COMEUP was first launched in 2019 and is viewed as the largest startup event in South Korea. Its aim is to help Korean startups connect with global investors, corporations, media, and startups. Last year, due to COVID-19, ComeUp 2020 was held online. For 2021, the event was held both online and offline.

COMEUP 2021 – Asia’s Most Distinguished Startup Event

COMEUP 2021

COMEUP 2021 had startup showcases, fireside chats, and panel talks. The event even has its own official COMEUP YouTube Channel so those that missed the event can review what went on during the festival. The festival also had 84 prominent speakers who spoke about startup trends and topics such as education, the environment, and how the world will change post-COVID-19

COMEUP Stars Showcase

COMEUP 2021 Startup Showcase

COMEUP Stars Showcase offered 72 innovative startups in Korea opportunities to connect with Korean and global investors. This was done through IR pitches, business matchmaking, and booth exhibitions. 

K-Startup: King of Kings Competition and the Startup League Competition allowed startups to compete against each other for the Grand Prize. The competition was launched in March of 2021. It offered 9 preliminary leagues operated by different Ministries in Korea, where startups could participate. In the end, the Ministry of SMEs and Startups selected the final 20 teams (10 startup companies and 10 pre-startup teams). Final evaluations were conducted in October of 2021. The Ministry of SMEs and Startups will monitor the top 20 startups until the first half of 2022. As well as offer support by helping them attract investment and connecting with global companies. 

“K-Startup has successfully established itself as an opportunity for founders with creative ideas and cutting-edge technology to be realized as innovative startups,” said the head of Ministry of SMEs and Startups, Cha Jeong-hoon. 

COMEUP Open Innovation Showcase 

COMEUP 2021

The event offered something new for ComeUp 2021. It was the Open Innovation Showcase. It brought in 18 global companies such as Google and Samsung to promote open innovation. This allowed startups access to global companies for potential partnerships and collaborations. Global companies got access to the latest up-and-coming startups that offered innovative solutions. 

In addition, there was business matching between startups and investors. The business matching program not only allowed for networking but also investment consultation between startups, investors, and global companies.  

Korea-France Startup Day

Korea France

There were also side events in association with ComeUp 2021. The Ministry of SMEs and Startups held a “Korea-France Startup Day” on the 17th of November at Tips Town in Gangnam. The event was for a delegation of 11 French startups visiting Korea. However, the event also gave Korean startups interested in entering the European market a chance to network with European startups. The event was attended by the French Ambassador Phillppe Lefort. On the Korean side the Minister of SMEs and Startups Kwon Chil-seung, the Director of Startup Promotion Agency Kim Yong-moon, and the Angel Investment Association, President Ko Young-ha, and 11 Korean startups at Tips Town participated in the event. In addition, the Ministry of SMEs and Startups announced the opening of the Korea Startup Center Paris in the first half of 2022. 

Promoting Entrepreneurship in South Korea

COMEUP 2021 is a truly global startup festival that not only attracts entrepreneurs but also future young entrepreneurs in Korea. 67% of the total applicants from the preliminary round were under 30 years old. Therefore, this shows that entrepreneurship is strong and growing in South Korea. Many of the startups aimed to solve social problems such as the environment, education gap, and healthcare using AI/big data. 

“I expect that this ComeUp 2021 will further revitalize young entrepreneurs and create many Korean startups that advance overseas beyond Korea,” said the CEO of ComeUp 2021, Ahn Seong-woo.