Software/ platforms

Adding ‘Hi Seoul’ increased exports by 60%

Seoul Business Agency (SBA) and co-planned this article

Hi Seoul has nearly 1,000 companies, and sales increased by 18% by employing 50,000 people last year.

Four companies of Hi Seoul have attracted more than 30 billion won in investment, doubling it within a year.

When “industrial clusters” virtually gathered, companies collaborated and entered overseas markets more easily.

Following announcement covered by, Hi Seoul enterprises have been recognized as excellent SMEs by the Seoul Metropolitan Government and increased exports by 60% compared to the previous year (2020). Nearly 1,000 Hi Seoul companies have gathered on the online platform “Virtual Cluster” and have been assisted in overseas expansion and networking such as collaboration among companies in addition to various support from the Seoul Metropolitan Government and the Seoul Business Agency (SBA).

Total exports of Hi Seoul companies reached 2.526 trillion won last year, 60.07% higher than in 2020, which was 1.578 trillion won. That is the figure of 454 Hi Seoul Enterprises that had exports. During the same period, the average export value per company has also increased by more than two billion won from 3.516 billion won to 5.566 billion won. Exports accounted for an average of 31.56% of total sales, increasing 7.72% compared to 2020 (23.84%).

Total sales of Hi Seoul companies are about 13.78 trillion won, and the average sales also increased by 17.89%, from 12.761 billion won in 2020 to 15.044 billion won last year. It is also notable that Hi Seoul companies hired more than 50,000 full-time employees. According to statistics published in the Hi Seoul Enterprises Virtual Cluster, Hi Seoul Enterprises recorded twice as much performance as general venture firms in indicators such as average sales, export ratio, and average number of employees.

It is distributed evenly across the following global export destinations: Southeast Asia (269), North America (199), Japan (166), China (162), Europe (158), the Middle East (82), South America (72), Oceania (42), and Africa (34). Hi Seoul companies showed outstanding export growth, indicating that the global expansion support program based on the virtual cluster has been effective.

The virtual cluster is a platform where all Hi Seoul companies gather, establishing a systematic overseas expansion program as the Seoul Metropolitan Government and SBA have worked hard to connect and match with more than 10,000 overseas buyers in China, Europe, and the United States. It is operated in 6 stages: recruitment of participating companies, online promotion, buyer discovery, online B2B (Business-to-Business) matching, export consultations, and follow-up support. So far, 152 companies have participated in 183 export consultations.

The certification and network of Hi Seoul Enterprises, which Seoul recognizes as excellent companies, have maximized the effect of overseas expansion rather than SMEs working alone. There was also a case where the Indian Embassy requested to be introduced to a Hi Seoul company to see the virtual cluster and collaborate with a local information technology (IT) company in India, leading to a partnership agreement.

The graph shows Hi Seoul Enterprises’ domestic sales and overseas exports in 2020-2021. (SBA provided the source)

Wayne Hills Ventures, an artificial intelligence-based software development startup certified as a Hi Seoul company, entered the US market by signing a $1.2 million contract with a short history. Lee Soo-min, CEO of Wayne Hills Ventures, pointed out, “As a Seoul-certified company, it has a very useful meaning for going abroad.” PFD CEO Nam Gung-kwang, who handles beauty, health, and food items, also expressed, “There will be a good opportunity to collaborate with companies in markets that we have not explored.”

In fact, the virtual cluster has established itself as a platform for Hi Seoul companies to exchange and collaborate with each other. Representative examples are ProLangs (a translation service provider) and Atoz (successor contract for Power Blog Experience Group), which are connected by SBA through a virtual cluster.

Kwon Young-jo, vice president of ProLangs, a company known in the translation industry, said, “In the past, most of our sales were done through introductions. As a B2B support project for Hi Seoul Enterprises, we were able to increase our company awareness through a new sales method of online marketing such as blogging with Atoz. It was satisfying to be able to exchange high-quality services between Hi Seoul companies at reasonable prices.”

Lee Ki-bae, CEO of Fire Cops, a joint brand of a fire safety management company, also said, “The most helpful part after the Hi Seoul Company certification was exchanges with companies in other fields. By meeting with excellent companies, I learned about application cases in other fields and the direction of future technology development and deepened my understanding.” He said, “The co-branding of Hi Seoul Enterprises serves as a good platform. We expect to receive a lot of help not only domestically but also overseas.”

R&D departments are operated by 84.28% (772 places) of responding companies, which is considered to be the most deficient area for small and medium-sized enterprises compared to large enterprises. Investments in future growth and source technology were made by 71.07% (651 places) with some even holding patents. Hi Seoul companies’ R&D expenses more than doubled from the previous year to 616.647 billion won. Only 18 companies invested more in R&D than sales.

As a result, these companies attracted significant investment. After a survey of Hi Seoul companies in December last year, 11.13% (102 companies) attracted investment. The total investment attraction amounted to 2.92 trillion won, more than double from the previous year. Everon, the first in the industry to lead private investment in slow chargers; Megazone Motov, which attracted Series B investment; Green Labs, which has been recognized for its corporate value of 800 billion won by attracting Series C investment; and Neuromeka, which succeeded in attracting Series D investment, have all been recognized for their ideas and business feasibility. There are several Hi Seoul companies that have invested tens of billions of won each.

In 2021 alone, four of the Hi Seoul companies, Brainz Company, Plateer, Wanted Lab, and iQuest, were newly listed on the KOSDAQ, and Hurum was transferred and listed on the KOSDAQ from KONEX. Tomato System was also listed on KONEX, followed by an initial public offering (IPO).

“I am proud of the outstanding performances of Hi Seoul Enterprises despite difficult conditions due to the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic (coronavirus infection),” said SBA Headquarters Support Director Moon Gu-sun. He added, “In the future, we will spare no effort in supporting the growth and development of Hi Seoul Enterprises. Anyone can check Hi Seoul Enterprises information and suggest cooperation by accessing the virtual cluster that gathers all Hi Seoul Enterprises in one place. We hope that many companies and institutions that want to grow together with Hi Seoul Enterprises will pay attention.”

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