UNIST to Build On-campus Innovation Space for Student Entrepreneurs

South Korea's Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) has recently held a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of UNISPARK, the on-campus innovation hub for student entrepreneurs on Nov. 17, 2017.

UNIST has launched a new co-working office space in the Student Dormitory to help foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship on campus. The 790-square-foot co-working space, called UNISPARK, will be available to all student entrepreneurs at UNIST, providing them an on-campus spot to launch and grow their startups.

A ribbon cutting ceremony was also held to celebrate the opening of UNISPARK on Friday, November 17, 2017. The name ‘UNISPARK’ has been selected through a public contest, meaning “A place for UNISTars to get inspired and actively undertake entrepreneurial activities, like striking sparks”.

“World-class tech companies, such as Google and Facebook were all started by college students,” says President Mooyoung Jung of UNIST. “We expect UNISPARK will act as a student innovation incubator to support students in developing entrepreneurial skills and provide tailored support for early-stage, high-growth businesses and ideas.”

Once a mere cafeteria, this innovative co-working hub now encompasses a student-shared office space for pre-startup stage and a private space for early-stage startups. The pre-startup space will be available to all undergraduate and graduate student entrepreneurs at UNIST, though participants must reserve a spot in adnvance. It consists of three conference rooms, a seminar room, a mentoring and investment consultating space, as well as an exclusive space for prototype production. The space also includes a cafeteria and resting area to encourage students to share entrepreneurial skills and ideas and create diverse connections.

The early-stage startup space refers to the five co-working spaces for in-house startup teams. Any startup team that has a UNIST student as a team representative can apply for a residence permit. The selection contest is held once per semester and the selected teams are allowed to use the exclusive space at no cost. Besides, the startup teams who are currently participating in the startup program, hosted by the Center for Entrepreneurship Education (CE2) or those registered as businesses will receive extra points when moving in.

A total of twelve startup teams have moved into the newly-opened UNISPARK, including NeeMo (Short for ‘Need Mother’) that promotes personality education through virtual reality (VR) and UVengers that provides a platform for solving societal issues.

The ceremony was attended by a total of 20 student entrepreneurs and 12 on-house startup teams. It was followed by celebrations with concerts and various artistic performances by UNIST cheering squad ‘UNICH’, the music club ‘Melting Point’, the black music club ‘EpideMIC’, and the acoustic guitar club ‘PEAK’.

The event was also attended by 100 related guests, including Director Soon-Cheol Park of Employment & Economy Bureau (Ulsan City Hall), Director Chung-Kwang Kim of the Ministry of SMEs and Startups in Ulsan, Director Bong-Ran Song of Ulsan Economic Promotion Agency ter general manager, Director Young-Jun Jae of Ulsan Center for Creative Economy & Innovation, and Deputy Director Ja-Rok Gu of Startup Supporting Team at University of Ulsan.