Future tech

Shenzhen-based provides hardware support to South Korean tech start-ups

Agreement with Seoul’s N15 start-up accelerator will help small companies connect with Chinese manufacturers

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 March, 2016, 6:55pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 March, 2016, 7:02pm

More South Korean technology start-ups are being enticed to develop their hardware products with mainland China’s vast contract electronics manufacturing services sector under an ambitious initiative by Shenzhen-based

Backed by Hong Kong-listed Cogobuy, has signed an agreement with major start-up accelerator N15 in Seoul to help connect small hardware-focused technology companies from Korea to Chinese manufacturers.

Wang Gang, a spokesman for, said more than dozen small and medium-sized technology companies from South Korea had linked up with mainland contract electronics manufacturers through the Ingdan online platform before the deal with N15.

Some of the projects included the manufacture of so-called intelligent toys, human traffic monitoring devices and commercial unmanned aerial vehicles, popularly known as drones.

It’s not easy for overseas start-ups to turn their ideas into products on the mainland and sell these in the domestic market
Michael Sung, Entrepreneurship Centre

Wang said that “one of these start-ups has closed their initial round of corporate financing in Seoul”, presumably helped by having a prototype of their product built by Chinese contractors. was established in 2013 by Cogobuy to provide a one-stop supply chain platform that links technology start-ups and entrepreneurs with contract electronics manufacturing partners in mainland China to help design and build their products for the global market.

Wang said there were more than 6,000 hardware manufacturing suppliers on the platform, which had about eight million registered followers.

“It’s not easy for overseas start-ups to turn their ideas into products on the mainland and sell these in the domestic market,” Michael Sung, associate director of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology’s Entrepreneurship Centre, said. “They need specific partners who are highly knowledgeable of Chinese policies, regulators and the capital market, as well as capable of communicating well with foreigners.”

Wang said technology start-ups from Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Italy and the United States were also being targeted by, which Cogobuy expects to become the world’s largest platform for companies developing so-called internet of things (IoT) devices.

IoT is generally described as a vast new network of connected things, which includes parts of machines, smart wearable devices like fitness trackers, smart home thermostats, connected soap dispensers and a myriad other examples that track, store and send data online.

Research firm Gartner has estimated that 6.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide this year, up 30 per cent from 4.9 billion last year. About 5.5 million new things will get connected every day, it said.

According to a report from the McKinsey Global Institute, mainland Chinese manufacturers produce goods faster and at lower cost than those in most other economies can.

These manufacturers allow companies “to move into production quickly and helps them respond to changing customer needs, by finding new or lower-cost components, for example”, the report said. “China has more than 140,000 machinery suppliers, 75,000 manufacturers and suppliers in communications, computer, and other electronic equipment industries, and 104,000 companies in the transportation equipment sector.”

Shenzhen, in particular, aims to become a global hub for innovative products by 2017, according to the city’s science technology and innovation committee.