Press Release: Aalto’s new program for Korean HealthTech startups strengthens bond of the two nations

Aalto Startup Center will kickstart a new program for South Korean HealthTech and Wellbeing startups.

The Korean Startup Center program will be organized in co-operation with the Korea Institute of Startup & Entrepreneurship Development (KISED), the state-funded startup center of South Korea. The collaboration is the first concrete initiative in tightening startup ties between the two countries and is unique in its nature: never before has Aalto Startup Center launched a program of this magnitude in conjuction with a foreign state-led official body. This year’s program is a pilot project with the intention of making it annually permanent.

The two-stage Korean Startup Center program, to be concluded by the end of this year, strives to aid market entry into the Nordics and Europe for Korean HealthTech and Wellbeing technology companies.

This Autumn, 18 Korean startup companies will participate in a week-long introductory phase, and of those, the 10 most suitable ones will continue into the program’s 10-week second stage. Both stages are set to be organized in Otaniemi, Espoo, although Aalto Startup Center has the readiness to host them online in case this is the most viable option come Autumn.

“It is only natural that HealthTech startup companies target Finland and Otaniemi for business mentoring. The greater Helsinki-Uusimaa region has been credited to be the most innovative region in the European Union and hence Aalto Startup Center is the best hub for startups seeking HealthTech market entry in Europe. Finland hosts a cost effective health care system within an innovative society,” says Head of Aalto Startup Center Marika Paakkala.

”Our open-minded ecosystem is built for HealthTech startups: In Finland, comprehensive health registers, availability of electronic medical records, population-based biobanks and innovation-friendly legislation offer a fantastic setting for research,” she continues.

Selection criteria include maturity and market potential

During the state visit of the President of the Republic of Korea, Moon Jae-in, a year ago, President of Finland Sauli Niinistö warmly welcomed the Korean Startup Center to be founded in Finland.

He anticipated the new centre to create a strong bond between Finnish and Korean innovation ecosystems and accelerate the countries’ mutual trade. Aalto Startup Center’s new program is the first tangible action in the initiative of strengthening innovative collaboration between Finland and South Korea, a wish presented by President Niinistö himself.

“The market potential of a startup company’s solution is one of the most important criteria that we will apply when assessing which startups will make the cut into the program. We consider not only the quality of a company’s solution, but also their fit into our program and general maturity to take their place in the market. Special focus will be placed on how far the company’s business model already is in terms of regulation. The competitiveness of any solution in the fields of health and wellbeing will be determined by how ready it is to go through a rigorous and well-defined regulation process. One cannot rush into this market with an unfinished product,” Paakkala states.

Minister: Tremendous growth for Tech startups

Minister Park Young-sun, in charge of the Ministry of SMEs and Startups (MSS), remarks:

“As the ministry in charge of startups, we have already driven the vision of transforming Korea into a smart and digital economy since the beginning of this year. This paradigm shift is generating tremendous growth for Tech-based startups. Last year, Korean venture investment recorded an all-time high with a 25 % year-on-year growth. Despite COVID19, this trend is expected to continue this year, with a more than 20 % increase in the first quarter in online, untact and ICT service sectors.”

“KSC Startup Center will pave the way for the global scale-up of Korean startups. With the transition into a digital economy, I sincerely believe that our promising ICT based startups will be the essence in the post-COVID era and will further develop with the help of KSC,” Minister Young-sun says.

“At Aalto, startups have become a culture. Almost half of Finnish startups were born at Aalto University in its ecosystems. We are fascinated by Aalto’s sustainable startup culture and KISED wants to cooperate with Aalto University to help K-startups enter the global market. Finland has the world’s fastest track for digital health and wellbeing innovations and we believe Aalto Startup Center is at the center of the Finnish health care ecosystem to provide the best guidance for K-Startups,” adds Edward Lee, Director of Global Startup Division from KISED.


  • Aalto Startup Center and KISED began negotiations of the KSC program last Autumn
  • Korean startups applied for the KSC program in April 2020
  • Applicants were interviewed by Aalto Startup Center 15th-17th June
  • By the end of June, the Board of Judges had selected 18 companies for the program’s first stage
  • The program’s week-long first stage will be conducted this Autumn either in Otaniemi or online. During it, the Korean companies will be introduced to the Finnish startup ecosystem.
  • After the conclusion of Phase 1, ten most suitable companies will be selected to continue into Phase 2, a 10-week mentoring during which each week a new new topic will be focused on.
  • During the intensive second stage, the startups will concentrate on developing their business and will participate in numerous business meetings.

Further information:

Marika Paakkala

Head of Aalto Startup Center

+358 40 829 2286


Päivi Meros

Marketing and Communications Specialist, Aalto Startup Center

+358 50 32 98 554

Aalto Startup Center

Aalto Startup Center is a hybrid business accelerator for start-up companies that are less than three years old, with a particular focus on the technological field. The accelerator utilises the interdisciplinary competence offered by Aalto University in design, business and technology as well as the expertise and networks of the university. The participants include companies both from within Aalto and outside of it, and the accelerator also creates business activities from research-based projects. Currently, there are about 40 companies at Aalto Startup Center, 10 of which operate under Esa Bic Finland, which focuses on space technology and is a member of Aalto Startup Center.