Smart Cities Innovation Mission to Seoul

Are you a Dutch startup in the Smart City industry actively innovating in the urban development, mobility, or sustainability areas? Did the European market become too small for you and now you are looking to expand your business to South Korea or other countries in ASEAN region? Apply now to be one of the five startups joining the Smart Cities Innovation Mission to Seoul (3-6 September)! The deadline for applications is July 30th, so be quick.
  •   A booth at the 3rd World Smart City Expo (WSCE)

  •   Curated meetings and events with the main stakeholders in the South Korean tech ecosystem to help you scale your business to South Korea and the ASEAN market

  •   Become a part of one of the four active Smart City projects with opportunities for Dutch organizations (MoU)

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Challenge Details

Hey you! Glad that you’re here.


There is probably a reason why you have landed on this page! I bet you founded or work at a startup that contributes to the development of Smart Cities worldwide. If you are based in the Netherlands, then you are exactly what we are looking for!


The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) and Embassy in South Korea are organizing a Smart Cities innovation mission as a part of a multi-year strategy to grow their collaboration. The mission is organized around the impressive World Smart City Expo in Seoul (WSCE).


We are looking for startups that are active within the Smart City urban development, with a focus on Resilience, Sustainability, Smart & Green Mobility, Urban Regeneration and Citizen Engagement. Projects that are currently active in South Korea and are in need for more innovation could be best divided into these tracks:


1) Sustainable urban development (water: to integrate production and distribution and to meet global water demand increase; circular energy: to achieve efficiency, sustainability, and reliability of the entire electricity network; climate and air quality: air cleaning filters indoors/outdoors; resilience; waste management and recycling)


2) Urban mobility (accessibility, logistics; to improve citizen well-being, to lower environmental impact and to reduce the cost of congestion; autonomous driving vehicles; zero-emission mobility: electric and hydrogen vehicles)


3) Urban redesign and regeneration (preserve old infrastructure by infusing it with new technologies and sensors; smart building: to monitor, manage, integrate and improve efficiency; smart governance: to provide new affordance for citizen engagement and inclusive innovation; to realize the concept of the 'city as a platform')


4) Reducing unemployment (by promoting City-2-City startup collaboration, in MoU); South Korea initiating test beds and living labs to test the smart city solutions)


Why should you join the Innovation Mission?  

Joining this innovation mission could help you knock on the right door to enter the South Korean or Asian market with your product and get a chunk of what South Korea is investing in Smart Cities. South Koreans are quite risk averse, therefore, it is hard to penetrate their market if going alone, but recently signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between South Korea and the Netherlands opens big opportunities for Dutch companies to set up a shop there.


Next to getting a booth at the WSCE, each company will participate in roundtable discussions and matchmaking. The Netherlands Embassy is inviting startups to exclusive side-events of the expo–networking lunches, dinners, and seminars, such as KR-NL Smart City seminar with the Convergence Alliance. Further, TNW is organizing a Pitch & Drink event where the companies will get an extra opportunity to present their company in front of the selected audience. To make sure you will ace all the events, roundtables, and pitches, TNW organizes a workshop in Amsterdam. Here, you will get a chance to learn from the industry leaders about how to prep for this conference, how to pitch your startup, and to adjust it to South Korean business culture. You will also get some insight into differences between Dutch and Korean business culture, what to expect and how to act.


After applying, TNW will organize a call interview with you to determine the specific needs, goals, and motivations of your startup to join the mission. Together with the Embassy, we will then suggest the most important stakeholders to plan meeting with during your stay in South Korea. We don’t want you to blindly follow the general program, but to have private meetings planned outside of the program, that can help your business in achieving the goals.


South Korea was one of the pioneers when they introduced the concept of Ubiquitous or Smart Cities back in 2003. Since introducing them, 81 Smart City projects have been conducted nationwide. Some of the cities have failed to actually live and have turned into ghost towns. South Korea wants to stay at the forefront of Smart City innovation. This year, they are investing €3 billion into building new Smart City districts in Busan and Sejong, and to renew and upgrade (old) city districts in other cities. They are developing and investing into the most innovative Smart City labs and testbeds (regulatory sandbox) in the world where they want to test all kinds of Smart City technologies. If the tests are successful, they will eventually lead to a new market entry to other Asian countries.


South Korea and the Netherlands are actively working on strengthening their collaboration which has led to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Smart Cities.

  • Develop international network in Asia
  • Gain insights into the market needs and business opportunities
  • Increase understanding of the Korean and/or ASEAN market
  • Identify and meet with existing potential R&D collaborators, business partners, etc.
  • Refine and define export strategies
Practical Details

Dates: Tuesday 3rd september - Friday 6th september 2019


Location: Seoul, South Korea


Participation costs: € 250 per person (excl. tax) ; travel expenses (flights and hotel) are NOT covered


Organizer: Netherlands Enterprise Agency ( and the Netherlands Embassy in South Korea


Do you have more questions about the Innovation mission? Then please contact Jana Zane (


To be taken into consideration, you have to comply with these requirements:

  • Registered company at KVK (Kamer van Koophandel)
  • Ready to scale to the Asian market
  • Pay the participation costs (€ 250 p.p.)
8 July
Information session at RVO
30 July
Deadline for applications
1 August
Announcing selected startups
20 August
Workshop @ TQ
3 - 6 Sept
WSCE, site visits, side-event

Sorry, we no longer accept applications!