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Google unveils first Asian startup campus

Gangnam district in South Korea's capital Seoul is now the new home of Google's first Asian startup campus. The US search engine giant hopes to encourage a new generation of global tech entrepreneurs in the region.

Known as the "Beverly Hills" of South Korea, Seoul's hip and ritzy neighborhood of Gangnam has a reputation of being a hotspot for fashion and plastic surgery.

Now the district may be adding another attraction to its list - entrepreneurship.

US technology behemoth Google

opened doors to its first Asian startup "campus" in Seoul's Gangnam district on Friday, citing South Korea's flourishing entrepreneurship scene and widespread smartphone use as reasons for picking the capital as a base, after opening similar sites in London and Tel Aviv.

The endeavor is the latest addition to the expanding startup scene in Gangnam, which has attracted app developers, entrepreneurs and investors. In the past couple of years, the district has become the home of domestic startups like D. Camp and Maru 180.

But despite local successes, Korean firms have struggled to take their products to the global market.

"Our goal with Campus Seoul is to create a space where entrepreneurs can thrive," Mary Grove, Director of Global Entrepreneurship, said on

Google's official blog

. "Where they can feel at home with the local community, yet have everything they need to build a global company."

Campus Seoul rents out its 2,000 square meter space to startup companies and venture capital investors. With an open plan office design, it hopes to foster collaboration between fledgling companies.

In addition to providing space for people to network, it offers mentoring and training by Google teams and experienced entrepreneurs, as well as access to other startup communities in Asia and beyond.

The campus is also an effort by the South Korean government, which has partnered with Google, to establish a "creative economy." South Korean President Park Geun-Hye pledged a 3.3-trillion-won ($3.0-billion, 2.7-billion-euro) fund in 2013 to help nurture startups over the next several years.

el/uhe (AP, AFP)

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