September 21, 2021
5 mins

Start-ups are everywhere.


A year ago, I cycled across South Korea to explore the country outside its capital city. The trip changed how I thought about many things. Maybe most of all, I realized how much innovation goes on away from the bright lights of Seoul. Start-ups are everywhere.

Did you know the population of the 10 biggest cities in South Korea is comparable to the population of the 10 biggest cities in the USA? How many Korean cities mentioned below had you heard of?

Top 10 cities in South Korea by population

Today, I set off on another cycling trip. I start in Pohang, a city situated in the South with a population of half a million people, and end up at the North Korean border.

As I planned my route, I tried to figure out whether there were any start-ups in Pohang. The big difference between this year's trip and last is our search engine can now answer that question. I didn't have to look far. From the 2,841 start-ups outside of Seoul, Fitogether, which is from Pohang, showed up due to its rapidly growing nr2 innovation score.

Fitogether has developed an electronic performance tracking system (EPTS) for football players, which is being used in increasing numbers by football clubs in and outside of South Korea. One of its wearable EPTS products is rated by FIFA's Quality Programme as the highest for accuracy and consistency.

Start-ups like Fitogether show that globally competitive start-ups can come from anywhere. If you want to search for start-ups outside of Seoul, they are now only a search filter away on the search engine.

Another start-up which jumps out of the same search is an autonomous driving company, a2z, from Gyeongsan, a city in the South. a2z raised $14Mn last week to build autonomous driving testing products. Working with Kakao mobility, a2z is already trialing an autonomous driving taxi service in Sejong. Sejong is 120km south of Seoul, one of South Korea's two test-bed smart cities and an excellent place for a2z to build a reputation as a serious autonomous driving player.

Perception and classification of surrounding objects through LiDAR pointcloud clustering, from a2z's website.

If you don't know how to conduct the search described above, or if you haven't yet received early access to our new search engine, just reply to this e-mail. I'd love to show you.

That's it for this week. Looking forward to sharing whatever I uncover as I cycle north...

Thanks as ever for reading and, if you like what you see, please consider sharing!