A new era of industrial competitiveness hits South Korea thanks to a step-up in innovation

By Michelle Yeomans

- Last updated on GMT

A new era of industrial competitiveness hits South Korea thanks to a step-up in innovation

Related tags South korea Asia

Innovative R&D capabilities and tech savvy cosmetics brands have boosted South Korea's reputation around the globe which has ushered in a new era of industrial competitiveness for the country.

Korea’s commitment to beauty is a cut above the rest in Asia where it is leading the way with some serious brainpower and savvy technology.

And when it comes to personal care, hefty R&D spend yields cutting-edge advances in ingredients and formulation – from nanotechnology to stem-cell related actives and growth factors. 

As the West calls for more of South Korea's beauty innovations, even the smallest of players are benefiting, despite struggling to ward off stiff competition at home.

This is, in turn, alluring venture giants like Google to the country's capital.

It will be the Internet giant's first startup incubator to be located in Asia and represents a new era of industrial competitiveness in the country.

"South Korea has many entrepreneurs who are looking to do business overseas. It's a country Google can support​," Jeffrey Lim, the head of Campus Seoul told Nikkei Asian Review.

International products are available to SE Asia consumers, yet Korean products are king

Online beauty retailer, Hermo recently revealed that although it stocks international brands and partners directly with brand owners and distributors around the globe, Korean products are the most sought after in Southeast Asia.

The Malaysian cosmetics startup recently raised US$2 million in funding from venture capital firm, Gobi Partners to support its platform that claims to save Southeast Asia's shoppers time and money sourcing hard to find or overseas products. 

By September 2015, revenue reached RM 10 million (US$2.37 million), a threefold year-on-year growth and claims to be the first full-listing e-commerce supplier for L’Oreal in Malaysia. 

We believe that Hermo will continue to benefit from the Korean wave. We will work with them to establish improved supply chain relationships with suppliers and manufacturers from Korea and other major cosmetics markets​, ” Kay-Mok Ku, partner at Gobi Partners told regional publication, Tech in Asia.

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