The start-up fever may be spreading fast across the globe, but is yet to fully blossom in Korea and needs to be encouraged, according to a leading expert.
“As per the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Index, which was released last week, Korea needs to encourage competition and provide more opportunities (to spread entrepreneurship among young people),” Timo Njyberg, a senior fellow of Aalto University in Finland, said in a recent interview with The Korea Herald.
The index, compiled by U.S.-based Global Entrepreneurship and Development Institute measures a country’s overall attitude and business practices. In the 2016 GEDI index Korea’s ranking only increased by one notch to 27th among 132 countries, from the previous year.
The Finnish professor, who attended the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Week in Korea, pointed out the need for improvements in recognizing opportunities as one of the methods to conjure up the entrepreneurial spirit across the country.
“People do not see opportunities easily here. That should be changed. You have to be able to reveal your innovative ideas and get opportunities,’’ he said. For this, Korea is advised to encourage people to recognize business opportunities from an early age by establishing hot spots for start-ups like the U.S. and Finland do.
In the transit to the “platform” economy — one in which tools and frameworks based on the power of the Internet will frame and channel our economic and social lives — creating business has become a lot easier than in the past, which means entrepreneurship will drive the growth of a country, he noted.
“The platform economy is characterized by somebody who controls the system with a platform. Then there is another resource who is doing the actual work and operating the system,” he said.
He cited taxi-hailing app operator Uber and Airbnb, an accommodation marketplace, as model success cases to show how the platform economy works.
Despite a number of challenges in transition to the platform economy, the professor projected a positive outlook for start-ups from the macroeconomic point of view.
“The phenomenon of entrepreneurship is closely related with new work. In the future, more and more people won’t have their main job. Maybe their whole lives will be built out of pieces here and there,” he said. “Technology is one of the components to drive such changes in people’s lives. Another component is aging population.”
As he pointed out, a majority of young people continue to seek safe jobs provided by a big company or public companies, rather than their personal interests, but the perception of Koreans concerning their dream jobs will gradually change.
During his two-day visit to Korea, Njyberg signed a partnership agreement with the Korea Entrepreneurship Foundation, the organizer of the 2015 GEW in Korea for a variety of collaborative projects, aimed at bridging Korea and Europe in entrepreneurship.
“The collaboration is about research training and entrepreneurial activities. We are interested in entrepreneurship as a phenomenon, meaning that we want to understand how entrepreneurship is changing in the world,’’ he said.