Open Square D, a one-stop center dedicated to supporting open government data (OGD)-based startups, was opened in January inside the Business Incubation Center (BIC) at Sookmyung Women's University.
The opening of Open Square D means that a forward operating base (FOB) for those trying to turn ideas and technology into a business has been set up.
Open Square D, formerly called Open Lab, provides office space to entrepreneurs, as well as space for collaboration, where any visitor to Open Square D can exchange ideas with others in a bid to develop them. Open Square D will be used as an open place where public-private experimental startup support programs are carried out the private sector’s income creation.
In 2015, the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) held a meeting with OGD-based startups before the opening of Open Square D. Through the meeting, the MOI found out that most OGD-based startups had difficulty finding their own office space. Thus, the MOI remodeled the fourth floor of Open Square D to let startups move in.
In Dec. 2015, the first batch of seven teams -- five startups including Modu Company (developer of the Modu Parking app) and two teams in the pre-startup stage -- moved in.
Open Square D is planning to gradually expand office space for startups within the Business Incubation Center at Sookmyung Women's University. Neither pre-paid rent nor a security deposit is required. As of March 2016, Open Square D is receiving applications for the second batch of occupants. Open Square D’s partners from the private sector, such as Kakao, KT and MOS, are scheduled to engage in technology transfer and mentoring services for startups on a continuing basis.
Educational programs, designed to train entrepreneurs how to utilize OGD, has been offered at Open Square D’s collaborative space. This year, Open Square D opened free-of-charge courses - App Development Training and Basic Course for Data Analysis - to motivate entrepreneurs.
Each class is run on a small scale, designed to accommodate 20-30 students. However, those courses are so popular that lecture rooms have been packed with students every time. Also in the pipeline are seminars focused on teaching skills for commercialization (e.g. law, technology and marketing), special lectures, Startup Talk and lectures delivered by established entrepreneurs.
Meanwhile, Open Square D is joining forces with Korean universities to open a special course focused on how to use OGD, which will be intended for entrepreneur-minded undergraduates.
Open Square D also looks to hold Investor Relations (IR) meetings regularly to offer cash-strapped startups the opportunity to introduce their ideas to private investors.
Committed to moving forward with the government’s OGD initiative, Open Square D is expected to serve as a great base camp for OGD-based startups.