The K-Startup Grand Challenge (KSGC), is a fantastic opportunity for Indian startups looking to expand their business in South Korea. With the May 18, 2023, at 16:00 (GMT+9) deadline approaching, now is the time to apply for the most prominent global startup acceleration program in South Korea. This year’s 15-week all-paid residency program is focused on deep tech startups, and promises to be the grandest yet for global startups. The program will run from July 25 to November 10, providing a unique opportunity for Indian startups to access the Korean market.
Organized by the National IT Industry Promotion Agency and overseen by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups, the K-Startup Grand Challenge offers Indian startups a follow-up program after Demo Day in November 2023. The top 20 teams will receive additional support, including commercialization funds such as a PoC (Proof of Concept) project with Korean companies, with a maximum funding of $25,000 for approximately eight teams, helping Indian startups take their innovative ideas to the next level.
In 2022, KSGC attracted 2,653 teams from 122 countries worldwide, recording the highest-ever competition rate of 52:1. The KSGC committee expects the applicant startup numbers to exceed this year over previous editions.
K-Startup Grand Challenge is an excellent opportunity for global startups looking to expand their business to the most advanced market of Korea and further to Asia’s markets for their innovative products and services. South Korea, with the best ICT infrastructure and a highly adaptive tech-savvy consumer market, makes an ideal place to begin the journey to doing business.
Apply soon to get benefits
The program will select startups less than seven years old, whose representatives hold foreign nationalities and wish to establish an innovative technology business in Korea. Startups with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) or specific plans to relocate their headquarters or establish a company in Korea will be given preference.
The K-Startup Grand Challenge program evaluates startups and pre-startups through a two-step process (document evaluation and global audition evaluation), including criteria such as problem recognition, feasibility and differentiation, expansion plan, and team. The program excludes startups that copy or steal others’ ideas or violate contracts.
For the 2023 edition, the focus will be startups from eight sectors: e-Commerce & Retail, ESG & Green Tech, Food Tech & Agri Tech, Healthcare & Bio, IT & Software, Mobility & Robotics, Manufacturing & IoT, Metaverse & Media. Although innovative startups from other sectors will also be considered depending on their competitive edge.
KSGC 2023 program benefits
International startups participating in KSGC 2023 can expect several benefits.
- Commercialization support through mentorship from Korean startup experts and accelerators, assistance fitting their business model more closely in the Korean market, participation in meetups, and consultation and seminars related to commercialization, contract, tax, law, and policies related to doing business in Korea.
- Settlement support, including administrative assistance related to incorporation, visas, and living arrangements. The program will help obtain a Business Startup Visa (D-10-2) and open bank accounts.
- Networking as startups will have opportunities to meet Korean companies and investors through business meetings and events organized throughout the program.
- Office space in Pangyo Techno Valley, easily accessible by public transportation. A Korean intern, fluent in English and Korean, will help the startups in their Korean operations.
- Financial benefits, including settlement funds to cover living expenses over the 15-week program period ($10,840 per team). The final Demo Day in November 2023 will select five promising startups for grand prizes. On the final Demo Day, prizes worth approximately $270,000 will be awarded to the top five startups.
- Additional Follow-Up support: The top 20 startups from the program will receive an additional paid extension in Korea from December 1, 2023, to March 29, 2024. These startups will receive all support, including issuing a business startup visa, networking opportunities, office space, finding interns, etc. The selected startups will also be subject to follow-up financial support of $10,840 only. Additionally, eight startup teams will have the opportunity to get further assistance of $25,000 and support with commercialization funds such as a PoC(Proof of Concept) with Korean companies.
KSGC participants share experience
Brian Yonghui, the founder of Tan myFirst Technology in Singapore and second-place winner at KSGC, praised the program for providing his company with a seamless entry into the Korean market. “Thanks to KSGC, we’ve gained valuable connections, intern support, and an accelerator with business connections. This allowed us to hit the ground running.” For new applicants, Brian emphasized the importance of being flexible and adaptable in their approach and spending time in the country to gain a deeper understanding of the market.
Rachel Tobin, CEO of Nao Now, a US-based startup and third place winner at KSGC, also had a positive experience with the KSGC program. She praised the program for helping her make remarkable connections, expand her network, and discover new opportunities in Korea. Rachel highlighted the tremendous benefits of being physically present in the country, “Being on the ground in Korea offers an incredible opportunity to expand your business. The government funding, intern support, office support, all the networking opportunities, and chances to meet major Korean companies and investors all contribute to your success,” she said.
- APPLICATION DEADLINE – 5.18.2023 (Thu) 16:00 (GMT +9)
- DOCUMENT EVALUATION – Scheduled 5.19.2023 (Fri) – 5.26.2023 (Fri)
- AUDITION EVALUATION – Scheduled 5.30.2023 (Tue) – 6.2.2023 (Fri)
- FINAL RESULT ANNOUNCEMENT – 6.15.2023 (Thu)
- PROGRAM PARTICIPATION – 7.25.2023 (Tue) – 11.10.2023 (Fri)
- ADDITIONAL PARTICIPATION PERIOD (for Top 20 at 2023 Demo Day) – 12.1.2023 – 3.29.2024
For further information and the application for K-Startup Grand Challenge,