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[StartupRecipe]Two-Year Enforcement of Regulatory Sandboxes…What’s next

#Weekly Funding Overview

[Nov. 23~ Nov. 27]

The total funding of the last week of November stood at KRW 178billion across 17 deals.

ThingsBio/Healthcare-SeedSynergy X
RebellionsSoftware5.5 billionSeedKakao Ventures, Shinhan Capital, Gu Equity, Seoul Techno Holdings, Angelnet
TalingEducation6 billionMegastudyEdu
NPIXELGame30 billionAspex Management, SAEHAN Venture Capital, Altos Ventures
BucketplaceConsumer77 billionSeries ABond Capital, IMM Investment, Mirae Asset Venture Investment, Mirae Asset Capital, Naver
OliX PharmaceuticalsBio/Healthcare41.5 billionSeries CAju IB Investment, Kiwoom Securities , Widwin Investment
QARAFinancial Service3.5 billionMirae Asset Capital-Naver, NXC, Kingsley Asset Management
Winning iFinancial Service1 billionSeries ASamsung Venture Investment
Eine BlumeMedia/Content-Pre-Series AKakao Ventures, Premier Partners, Partners Investment, Daesung Venture Capital
SeaWithBio/Healthcare500 millionSeedEnlight Ventures
Sky LabsBio/Healthcare2.5 billionChong Kun Dang Holdings
SalphaTherapeuticsBio/Healthcare3 billionBridgeHana Ventures, Stic Ventures, Aju IB Investment, SJ Investment Partners, Tony Investment
DoomoolmoriFinancial Service3.5 billionSeries AHanhwa Asset Management
MyFranchiseConsumer3 billionSeries ACompany K Partners, Laguna Investment
PhenoMxBio/Healthcare-SeedNew Paradigm Investment
YeolrimBio/Healthcare1 billionAI angel club, Korea Venture Investment, New Paradigm Investment, Korea credit guarantee fund

Major Funding

  • Bucketplace, which operates Ohou, the interior design platform, has completed raising KRW 77 billion in Series-C funding and has raised cumulative funds totaling KRW 88 billion. Demand for apps has soared as people spend more time at home due to coronavirus, resulting in more than 14 million app downloads and monthly transactions of around KRW 100 billion.  
  • Npixel raised KRW 30 billion in new funding, achieving cumulative investments totaling KRW 60 billion, which is unprecedented for a game startup. The company has been valued at KRW 400 billion. The company is about to release its debut game, Gran Saga, and plans to use the funding to lay the groundwork to enter the global market by procuring talented staff. 
  • Tal-Ing, the talent-sharing platform, raised KRW 6 billion in strategic funds from Megastudy and agreed to future cooperation. Tal-Ing, which operates more than 8,000 classes covering topics from hobbies to job training, currently has a total of 820,000 subscribers. 
  • Rebellion, the AI semi-conductor startup, raised KRW 5.5 billion in seed capital. The startup, which was established by AI semi-conductor experts, plans to complete designs for an AI semi-conductor prototype in the first half of next year and then begin manufacturing. 
  • MyFranchise will raise KRW 3 billion in Series-A funding and plans to expand its businesses. MyFranchise is an online platform that connects franchise headquarters with potential branch owners. Moreover, it provides information about 6,800 domestic franchise brands in a visual format, including the number of branches for each year, the average sales figures, and the startup costs.    
  • Robo-Advisor Dumulmeori will receive KRW 3.5 billion in strategic funds from Hanwha Asset Management Co. Ltd to develop joint products.  
  • QARAsoft, a fintech startup in the AI finance investment sector, raised KRW 3.5 billion in funding and plans to use the funding to upgrade its mobile micro investment platform.  

More Funding

  • Winning I=a biometric technology company
  • SalphaTherapeutics=a company that researches and develops health apps and digital therapeutics
  • Yeolrim=a healthcare company that provides a smart hearing aid
  • Sky Labs=a vital signal big data based preventative healthcare company
  • SeaWith= a startup that grows with the sea
  • OliX Pharmaceuticals=a clinical stage pharmaceutical company

Undisclosed Funding

  • PhenoMx=a digital health company that delivers personalized solutions to providers and patients around the globe, via a quantitative imaging platform
  • Newto= a digital contents(VR, AR) provider
  • Eine Blume= a chat based mobile fiction app ‘Chatie’
  • Things= Women’s health care platform ‘monthlything’

#Trend Analysis

Two-Year Enforcement of Regulatory Sandboxes…What’s next?

The issue of regulation is a key issue when discussing the startup ecosystem in South Korea. The regulatory sandbox policy was introduced to address this issue. It has been two years since South Korea introduced the policy, which defers or exempts unreasonable regulations under certain conditions in order to aid the development of new technologies and industries.   

On the 25th, the Korean government shared the outcomes of the policy, stating that, over the last two years, 364 projects have been approved and 166 have either been released on the market or are undergoing tests.  

It was also revealed that KWR 62.13 million in funds has been raised, the ICT and industry convergence sectors achieved a nearly threefold increase in sales compared to January, and companies operating under the policy achieved increased investments, sales, and employment, including a net increase of around 1,700 employees. 

Thanks to regulatory sandboxes, startups offering autonomous robots, mobile liquor delivery, kitchen-sharing services, and home-sharing services had a chance to break free from regulations and try something new.  

Dazayo, the home-sharing service, resumed operations that had been suspended due to regulations and obtained a permit to run the service for the next four years. VCNC, which runs Tada, the Korean version of Uber, was also discouraged by regulations but will launch its new taxi service through a regulatory sandbox.  

However, there is still huge room for improvement.  

Some of the issues that need to be solved are that there are still limitations after companies have been selected for regulatory sandboxes, including complaints from other companies in the same sector, and that the painstaking conditional approval process serves as an obstacle to swift business expansion.  This means that it is necessary to review whether conditional approval acts as another form of regulation. For this reason, there has been a call to switch to negative regulations instead of regulatory sandboxes that provide limited allowances. Moreover, in order for businesses to continue operating after the exception period expires, there must be discussions about future support and formal business licenses. 

The Korean government has made three rounds of policy improvements by working on supplementing the policy and by providing KRW 142.1 million in special funds for testing.  Moreover, the government announced that it will provide more benefits to companies next year by creating additional R&D zones and approving the mobility sector for inclusion in regulatory sandboxes.   

It is clear that regulatory sandboxes are a necessary policy for Korean companies to be able to innovate. Next year marks the third year of the policy, and the Korean government will hopefully review the implementation methods and efficiency in order to improve the policy.    


  • 13 e-scooter rental startups announced that they will set the minimum age limit to rent a e-scooter to 16 and lower the speed to 25 kilometers per hour.  The law was revised so that only people over 13 years old are eligible to rente-scooters, and the maximum speed is 25 kilometers per hour. However, the e-scooter rental companies made the unprecedented decision to further increase the age limit to ensure safety and to prevent accidents
  • Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the number of Korean startups increased from last year. According to a report from the Ministry of SMEs and Startups, the number of startups in the 3rd quarter was 343,128, up 13% from the same period last year.

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