KITA – The Top Association for Open Innovation in Korea

KITA, the Korea International Trade Association has been around for over 70 years. KITA is the top association for Open Innovation in Korea. Their aim is to advance the Korean economy through trade. It is at the moment the biggest business organization in Korea with over 75,000 member companies. Therefore, KITA has a huge role in helping companies that wish to trade globally and helping global companies that are looking to trade with Korea. In addition, they help with formulating new trade strategies, mentoring trade professionals, supporting open innovation in Korea, and building a solid trading infrastructure. Furthermore, KITA has 13 offices in Korea and 11 overseas branches in major cities such as New York and Dubai. These branches are vital in helping Korean startups and SMEs gain foreign market entry and have contributed greatly to Korea’s $1 trillion in trade volume. 

“The Korea International Trade Association (KITA) will do its best to find new export engines and strengthen the global capabilities of our companies this year. We will deeply analyze the changes in the global trade structure and layout future strategies of our companies based on this analysis,” said Kim Young Ju, Korea International Trade Association Chairman.

How KITA Supports Open Innovation in Korea 

Open Innovation in KoreaTrade Consulting & Trade Policy Recommendation

KITA helps with trade-related issues. Therefore, they do various research on trade development and offer strategies and provide their members with consulting services for trade-related issues. KITA’s professional consulting services include helping with customs clearances, contracts, patents, and dispute settlements. Therefore, for those that are having issues with export/import, KITA provides help to its members via financial aid services. 

Data Regarding Overseas Market & Trade Information

KITA offers K-stat which is an in-depth trade statistics page on their site that gives detailed information on their import/export status, trade trends, and trade relations with other countries. In addition, they constantly publish reports on the latest news regarding trade and overseas markets. Furthermore, KITA has focused its attention on new media platforms such as social media, multimedia channels, and SMS service to distribute their content. 

Trade Diplomacy & Private Sector Cooperation 

KITA sends trade delegates around the world such as the United States and Europe to offer trade policy research and support. Furthermore, they are constantly looking to improve communication channels for trade cooperation. In addition, KITA helps Korean startups and companies enter the global market by growing their global trade network between private sectors. 

Training Programs & Research 

KITA plays a vital role in employment in Korea. KITA offers training courses to help job seekers in Korea find employment. Furthermore, they are constantly looking for competent and qualified individuals to fill roles as trade experts. In addition, KITA collaborates with the Korea Sanhak Foundation to form cooperation between Korean industries, universities, and the labor force. They play a vital role in nurturing open innovation in Korea for entrepreneurs and startups.

Business Matching for Buyers and Sellers 

KITA Trade KoreaKITA utilizes B2C and new media for global buyer-seller matching. They operate which is an online marketplace for Korean companies to showcase their latest products. The site offers potential global buyers with detailed product information about each product. In addition, KITA organizes global Korean product exhibitions to facilitate trade with global buyers and helps with meetings between Korean companies and foreign buyers. Their goal is to maximize opportunities for global business. 

South Korean Exports Expected to Grow in 2020 

South Korea’s exports are estimated to rise by over 3% in 2020. Furthermore, it is estimated that exports will be over $560 billion and imports will be over $520 billion. Due to global trade disputes and an economic slowdown, import/exports were down in Korea by 10% in 2019. Furthermore, memory chips play a large role in Korea’s exports and it is expected that memory chip prices will recover in 2020. Memory chips alone are expected to be over $100 billion.

“The chip export growth will be boosted by full-fledged 5G mobile network services and solid demand for data center investment by major tech companies,” said Kim Kun-woo, Senior Researcher at KITA. 

Open Innovation in Korea with Startup Branch at COEX

Startup Branch COEXKITA recently opened Startup Branch which is located at COEX. It provides an open platform for Korean startups to scale up and go global. Entrepreneurs in Korea, VCs, and incubators and accelerators can use the branch to network and share ideas. In addition, the Startup Branch has offices and a stage for events and pitches. 

“The Startup Branch is an open platform for startups to not just expand their businesses, but also make connections with established corporations. KITA can help with providing a meeting place and enormous networks,” said Kim Young-ju, CEO at KITA.

KITA’s 3 Pillars to Support Startups in Korea 


KITA helps organize meetings and helps match startups with Fortune 500 companies. 


KITA offers mentorship services and helps with cooperation with global companies. 

Open Innovation in Korea

KITA helps match Korean startups with local conglomerates and medium-sized enterprises to explore overseas business opportunities. 

NextRise 2019 – Featuring Korean Startups Through Open Innovation

Open Innovation in Korea with NextRise 2019KITA recently help NextRise 2019 Seoul, a global startup conference that had over 5,000 participants. It was a great 2-day event for Korean startups to network with global VCs, Accelerators, and startups from all around the world. There were many sessions of seminars, lectures, panel talks, pitches, and presentations regarding open innovation in Korea. These sessions offered great insights into the global startup ecosystem. 

Many global companies participated in NextRise 2019. Some of these global companies included Alibaba, BMW, Airbus, Amazon, Lenovo, Beiersdorf, and Johnson & Johnson just to name a few. They were alongside many Korean corporations such as Samsung and Hyundai. 

“Korea has strived for a multifaceted effort to nurture a startup ecosystem here, but one thing that we were lagging is the opportunity for startups to collaborate with large corporations,” said Choi Jong-ku the Financial Services Commission Chairman.