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  • Seoul Opens as “Technology-verifying Testbed” for 1,000 Innovative Businesses

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    Technology-verifying Testbed

    With a total of 59,000 innovative startups created in the first quarter of 2019 in Korea, the highest number in history according to statistics, Seoul introduced, “Testbed Seoul.” The “Testbed” will test the performance and effects of new products and services born through innovative technologies, such as blockchain, fintech, and AI, in all Seoul government locations, verifying their feasibilities. The project will be applied throughout the municipal government, from public infrastructures to administrative systems on subways, roads, and Hangang River bridges and in city hospitals and underground shopping centers.

    Objects of participation are products and services in Seoul just before commercialization by small, medium, or venture businesses. The products and services can be tested for up to one year in various facilities and sites of businesses with investment and contribution organizations, such as the Seoul government office, Seoul Metro, and Seoul Metropolitan Facilities Management Corporation, as well as receive support of up to KRW 500 million for verifying business expenses.

    Products with both performance and safety verified through these processes will be issued a “performance certificate” to be used as reference for domestic and overseas market expansion by each business. Furthermore, starting next year, Seoul will become a purchasing place for the introduction of “innovative product purchasing” for all organizations and departments, as well as for the application of the “positive administration immunity system” for active public purchases.

    The “New Technology Portal” (www.seoul-tech.com) of the Seoul Institute of Technology will open in June 2019. This is an online platform on which businesses that want to be a part of Testbed Seoul can apply at any time throughout the year.

    Seoul will begin constructing Testbed Seoul this year, 2019, and invest a total of KRW 150 billion by 2023 to support the growth of over 1,000 innovative startups.

    “Test City Seoul” will promote the expansion of public purchases regarding safety and performance-verified products and services through ① regular 24-hour application through the online platform “New Technology Portal,” → ② speedy and fair evaluation by an expert evaluation committee, → ③ provision of a testbed for up to one year and issuance of a “performance certificate,” and → ④ verification.

    First, Testbed Seoul will go forward with ▴the “R&D support type” for comprehensive support of business expenses and verification opportunity and ▴the “opportunity offer type” through which the city will provide only the site for verification. Existing large business and mid-sized businesses can be classified as an “opportunity offer type,” and it is anticipated that this will increase utilization of innovative technologies.

    Second, applications submitted through the New Technology Portal will receive → comprehensive evaluation of a product’s innovativeness and safety through a two-step examination (document, interview) by an evaluation committee comprised of industrial and technological experts, → with the determination of final participating businesses and their products and services. For fair and expert evaluation, the city will form a pool of 200 expert judges in seven fields, including fintech, artificial intelligence, and biotechnology, for operation of an evaluation committee.

    Third, the final selected businesses will establish plans with concerned departments (markets) in which the products and services will actually be used and begin an on-site verification process that can last up to one year. The department in charge will inspect and record product performance and matters in terms of malfunctions, which will be followed by an evaluation of the results at the end of the verification period and an issuance of a “performance certificate.”

    Each business can utilize the “performance certificate” to supplement product insufficiencies or to make upgrades to use as a reference for local and overseas market expansion. During the test period, the city will allow interested local and foreign buyers to visit the verification sites to use them as part of the marketing process.

    Fourth, Seoul will become the purchasing place of innovative products after the verification process comes to a close to support early market growth and outlet. For the development of an active purchasing culture, the city will reform the administrative process while holding events, such as the Testbed Expo (September) and Startup Pitching Day (monthly), to advertise innovative products.