SparkLabs, one of the leading incubators in Seoul’s rapidly growing startup ecosystems, announced today that it will launch its Internet of Things Accelerator in Songdo International Business District in early 2015. A $35 billion private real estate development that will contain 80,000 apartments, 50 million square feet of office space, and 10 million square feet of retail space when it is completed next year, Songdo is one of the world’s first specially designed “smart cities.”
This means that the city was developed with a technological infrastructure that supports connected Internet services and products in public spaces and residences. For example, the city is filled with sensors that can monitor temperature, energy use, and traffic flow, as well as amenities like charging stations for electric cars.
SparkLabs intends to use Songdo, which currently has more than 35,000 residents, as a “test bed” for its companies. Its Internet of Things program will be based in Seoul and Songdo and is open to startups from anywhere in the world. It will focus on enterprise and consumer connected devices, sensors, data analytics related to the Internet of Things space, platform plays, and wearables, says SparkLabs co-founder and general partner HanJoo Lee.
Alumni from SparkLabs’ incubator program include KnowRe, an adaptive learning platform for math that recently raised $1.4 million from SoftBank, and Memebox, which also participated in Y Combinator.
“Songdo’s importance is to the overall tech ecosystem,” Lee tells TechCrunch. “Global leaders, such as Cisco and LG, and potential others are integrating cutting edge technologies into this smart city built from the ground up. It really provides a unique opportunity for companies to see how ubiquitous technology can be integrated into our lives without creating interference of distractions. Songdo is a giant petri dish for companies such as Google to new startups.”
“Songdo provides our Internet of Things participants a very unique opportunity to plug them into a community of 35,000 people. This opportunity is unparalleled in the world,” he adds. “Working with such a wired city open to innovation allows our startups to test out their products at scale, not a field test with four or five friends. We picture a whole range of devices that will eventually be launched at Songdo, from new security systems for recreational parks to new healthcare devices to pet trackers to smart appliances.”
Located near Incheon International Airport, Songdo is already being used as a testing ground by Korea and U.S. tech companies such as Cisco Systems, LG CNS (an LG Group subsidiary that provides information technology services), and security monitoring provider ADT Caps.
In a statement, New Songdo International City Development chairman Stan Gale said “With the IoT accelerator pioneering cutting-edge technologies in Songdo IBD, we are confident that our population of early adopters will embrace the new technologies that are developed by SparkLabs.”