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Foundry Europe: Building Bridges Between Innovation In Luxembourg And South Korea


Foundry Europe has been given the opportunity to connect local innovations with global players in South Korea in two different occasions: Korea Fintech Week with some of the largest banks and financial institutions present and NextRise open innovation conference, organised by KITA (Korean International Trade Association), a major event held during the end of June. Both these events will go forward online and will offer the possibility to connect with some major VC’s, global multinational brands and organisations as well as other potential business partners. Foundry Europe is now taking in applications to coach local businesses for the upcoming events. Due date? This Sunday, May 10th! Hurry up. Irene Mäkelä, Project Manager at Foundry Europe tells us more.
by: Charles-Louis Machuron
photo: Sunyu Kim on Unsplash
Tell us about Foundry Europe.

Since our launch in 2019, we have developed several strategic partnerships in and outside Luxembourg to serve the core process of Foundry Europe, which is to support businesses with European market entry and expansion. Together with our partners, we develop bespoke acceleration programs that are now positioned under the brand Foundry Europe. Our partners include accelerators both within and outside of Europe as well as key business collaborators within the Luxembourgish Ecosystem.

In the process, Foundry Europe has established itself as an appreciated hub in the Luxembourgish business community. It will continue to be a vocal business hub and a place for working, meetings, workshops and events locally (lucky for us, even its garden allows maintaining social distancing!).

How do you help/support startups and innovative companies?

Our mission is to help good, scalable businesses expand into new markets. During these exceptional times, we can also support in adapting service offerings and brand communications to meet the new, post-Covid-19 market needs.

We help businesses progress through research and planning stages along with the establishment in Europe and access to sales networks.

Our main target audience is outside of Luxembourg, but we are also here to help local businesses scale their business to new markets.

“We develop bespoke acceleration programs to provide all the support needed to assess market opportunity.”

Your network extends as far as Korea. Why Korea?

South Korea is known for its great innovation and technology skills, and businesses are eager to find new growth outside the country. Some of the companies already know the US market, but Europe does not work the same way. To access the complex and versatile European marketplace, businesses need deeper insights on target markets, as well as the right connections.

We have been working on establishing connections with South Korea for the past couple of years and have established partnerships with various organisations in Korea. We’ve also worked with several startups that are planning to enter the EU.

How do you materialize your partnerships with your contacts there?

We have established partnerships with several large accelerators, who want to provide their members with a partner for the European market, who can help in understanding the market, finding the correct customers and help in finding the connections for successful market entry. We have been chosen as official partners for several organisations: Korean International Trade Association, Korea’s government accelerator Born2Global, Fintech Center Korea and private accelerators including Y&Archer and Krypton, who themselves work with private and public associations in South Korea to scout and support businesses looking at global expansion.

In collaboration with these partners, we develop bespoke acceleration programs to provide all the support needed to assess market opportunity, and plan clear, validated roadmaps for entry into the European markets.

“We are looking for cutting-edge, disruptive innovations that have global growth ambitions.”

Tell us about your collaboration with KITA.

This February, Foundry Europe signed a significant contract with KITA (Korean International Trade Association), South Korea’s largest business association, to develop Open Innovation activity and initiatives between South Korea and Europe, including a testbed concept to test the latest Korean innovations in real-life settings such as in shopping malls and public venues.

KITA owns and operates COEX, the largest single-floor exhibition hall and shopping center in Seoul. To maximize the value of its assets, KITA launched a COEX TestBed project for the first time in the private sector. Based on the success of implementing the first TestBed project in Korea, KITA was looking to expand its project by working with European TestBeds to help enhance their infrastructure and services and help Korean startups enter the European market.

Foundry Europe will be developing these connections and allowing local businesses to explore and take advantage of the latest innovations.

You’re involved in the Next Rise call. What are you looking for?

With KITA, we are also collaborating on bringing some of the most promising innovations from Luxembourg to one of the largest startup events/open innovation conference in Korea, Next Rise. This will be held sometime during the end of June.

More than 10,000 participants are expected to attend and network with Global MNCs, VCs, Accelerators, Korean corporates and startups from all around the world.

For this call, we are looking for cutting-edge, disruptive innovations that have global growth ambitions and wish to showcase their solutions on a big platform (virtually, of course!)

“We will arrange 1:1 meetings with each company wanting to join, select and coach the most promising businesses for the official application to KITA.”

Why should Luxembourgish startups and innovative companies apply?

This is a unique opportunity to reach out to major global businesses and establish business relations with them. South Korea is known to be the home for not just innovative technologies, but also for several global brands, who will all most likely be in attendance. Next Rise might also be an opportunity to connect with major VC’s and other investors, so this is truly a great opportunity for companies wanting to scale-up.

How does one apply?

Businesses can send their decks via the application form (click here) by 10th of May.

We will arrange 1:1 meetings with each company wanting to join, select and coach the most promising businesses for the official application to KITA, who will then arrange the matching with the most suitable business partners for the online meetings that will be held during the end of June.

What are the other opportunities not to be missed?

The KITA innovation testbed will create numerous interesting opportunities for businesses in Luxembourg. Once the project goes forward, we will publish more information on this in our channels.

Additionally, we are starting to offer our expertise to any businesses that need to reposition themselves for the post-Covid19 marketplace.

The venue of Foundry Europe in Luxembourg will soon be harnessed to support businesses that are working to support the current exceptional times and the post-Covid-19 recovery.

“There are opportunities for Luxembourgish companies to directly benefit from Korean technologies.”

Why do you think Luxembourg and Korea are ideal technology partners?

The Luxembourg Trade and Investment office in Seoul has been operating since 1997, for a good reason. Innovation and technology are the key factors that have underpinned South Korean export competitiveness and fueled the country’s remarkable economic rise over the past decades. Luxembourg is a country which has shown time and again its capacity to reinvent itself, moving from a predominantly industrial economy to an international financial center and in the past two decades has increasingly invested in R&D to create state-of-the art knowledge-based niches.

Luxembourg is also known for being an open economy and a gateway to Europe. We believe that Luxembourg is an ideal hub for Korean companies to enter the European market place.

There are opportunities for Luxembourgish companies to directly benefit from Korean technologies – even more so now that Covid-19 puts pressure on business models to adapt to new market conditions – and we believe the time is doubly more ideal with the sustained public R&D effort to grow high-tech startups in Luxembourg.


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