Ryan Frantz ( )
The K-Startup Grand Challenge is back with exciting perks for startups applying from across the globe. The challenge is an annual project conducted and financed by the Korean government and offers startups a fantastic global platform and a chance to break into the robust Asian market. South Korea, conveniently located in East Asia, between China and Japan, with Hong Kong and Taiwan to the south, is a great location for startups looking to expand across Asia.
Here are 10 reasons why both emerging and established startups should apply.
1. It is the world’s largest three-month global accelerator programme
The K-Startup Grand Challenge is conducted and financed by the South Korean government, and is the world’s largest three-month global accelerator programme. It also offers a fantastic global platform for startups looking to expand across the robust Asian market with unprecedented benefits including government support. In fact, since 2016, a total of 360 teams from 168 countries have participated, and 164 Korean subsidiaries have been established.
2. Korea provides a launchpad to expand in Asia
South Korea is spearheading innovation in Asia with incredible infrastructure and rapid technological advancements. The Korean government also invests heavily in startup infrastructure to support the ecosystem. Korea is the world’s most connected country with 100% LTE coverage. The country’s strong ties to other nations in Asia make it the most favourable country to launch or expand a startup in the market.
3. Korea’s tech game is on point
South Korea is way ahead of other countries when it comes to high-tech infrastructure. It is a leading manufacturer in cutting-edge electronics. With almost half the country’s population living in the capital city of Seoul, it also provides great opportunities for early testing as Koreans are known to be early adopters of new technology.
4. Access to state-of-the-art technology
Located in the south of Seoul in the Gyeonggi province, the Pangyo Technopark is the hub of the Korean startup and innovation ecosystem. It comes with state-of-the-art tech facilities such as Global R&D Centre, Public Support Centre, and the Industry-Academy R&D Centre.
This environment allows you to work out of a centrally located startup campus to exchange information, mingle with several sectors, and create business opportunities.
5. Your living expenses are covered
Each startup in the programme will be provided with settlement funds of ₩12,250,000 (approx. $10,208) per team to cover the living expenses over 3.5 months in Korea. Twenty startups selected for follow-up support will pe further provided with ₩12,250,000 (approx. $10,208) for an additional 3.5 months.
6. A $270,000 prize pool
The K-Startup comes with a prize pool of $270,000 for the top five startups. This includes ₩144,000,000 (approx. $120,000) for first place, ₩84,000,00) (approx. $70,000) for second place, ₩48,000,000 (approx. $40,000) for third place, ₩30,000,000 (approx. $25,000) for fourth place, and ₩18,000,000 (approx. $15,000) for fifth place.
7. Help desk, visa assistance, and more
Participating startup teams also get to enjoy eased visa regulations, in addition to support from housing and administrative work in Korea. Startup teams will also be provided with professional consultation and seminars related to commercialisation, contract, tax, law, and policy involved in domestic business in Korea.
8. Interact with Korea’s top conglomerates
The challenge will allow you to network with conglomerates and top Korean partners. You stand a chance to attract the attention of world-class investors, accelerators, and incubators such as those initiated by Samsung, Hyundai, LG, and Lotte, to name a few.
9. Mentorship opportunities with local experts
Your startup will be assigned to one of five accelerators to assist you to develop a robust business model to suit the Korean market. You will have the opportunity to be mentored by specialists in your area and network with similar startups in Korea to expand your base.
10. Access to Korean interns to overcome language and cultural barriers
The programme will also provide startups with access to Korean interns (one intern shared by two teams), to assist selected startups with their operations in Korea for a period of 3.5 months. The intern would assist founders in negotiating language and cultural barriers – often cited as challenges while pursuing business in a foreign country.
Apply now to the K-Startup Grand Challenge 2023
Startups that are less than 7 years old and that wish to expand to Korea or incubation-stage startups who wish to start up in Korea can know more about the programme and apply.
Applications close on May 18, 2022.