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South Korea Signs Up UK’s Arm, in Bid to Drive Chip Innovation

Seoul taps Arm's "flexible access" package

By claudia glover

South Korean government has signed a multi-year agreement with the UK’s Arm that it hopes will support the emergence of more Korean semiconductor startups, in a country dominated by Samsung Electronics.

The deal, signed today by Arm and the Korean Ministry of SMEs and Startups (MSS) aims to kick-start System-on-Chip (SoC) innovation. It comes after Arm silicon partners shipped a record 6.4 billion Arm-based chips in the last quarter of 2019; the third record for unit shipments in the past two years

The country will be relying on’s Arm SoC design portfolio via its “Arm Flexible Access” offering: an approach to licensing its semiconductor technology that Arm launched in July 2019. (Flexible Access users can initiate projects before they license IP and pay only for what they use at production.)

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SoC technology is typically a single chip solution for complete system implementation, with built in embedded input/output interfaces, processors, control units and data processing elements, essentially integrating most or all components of a computer or other electronic system.

SW Hwang, country manager of Arm Korea said: “Today’s startups will be tomorrow’s leading technology companies. Huge technology innovation is happening within silicon startups in areas including AI at the edge, autonomous vehicles and IoT, and we’re excited to work with MSS to enable Korean startups with an accelerated route to success.”

South Korea’s Startup Landscape

This move comes as the South Korean government pledged $39 billion in emergency funding to save its SMEs, the latest in a string of proposals by the Government relieve pressure on Asia’s fourth largest economy, including an interest rate cut and an extra $9.12 billion budget, as reported by Reuters.

Although South Korea has long been dominated by its “chaebol” or far-reaching conglomerates, South Korea’s emerging technology scene has seen a boom, with its own “Silicon Valley” emerging in the region of Pangyo, which attracted 40 foreign startups in 2018 due to its K-Startup Challenge.

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South Korea boasts a flock of 12 tech unicorns, and is pushing for 20 by 2023.

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