South Korea’s K-Startup Grand Challenge

A Govt of South Korea initiative – K-Startup Grand Challenge, a 3.5 month-long accelerator programme will be held on 16 August – 20 November 2021 in Pangyo Techno Valley, a tech hub near Seoul. 

The South Korean government is supporting talented entrepreneurs and promising startups, to turn Korea and Pangyo Creative Economy Valley into a global startup hub in Asia. Being a gateway to the Asian market, South Korea provides immense opportunities for startups to set up their businesses in the country and get the required support from the Govt. and the startup ecosystem.

About the K-Startup Grand Challenge

Backed by the South Korean Govt, the global challenge was launched back in 2016 to promote the expansion of an open entrepreneurship ecosystem in Asia and turn South Korea into a prominent startup and business hub in the region. The program started accepting applications on 15 April and the last date to apply is 15 June.

Important Details:

When: KSGC Program Period: August 16 – November 30. 2021 (Application Period: April 15 – June 15. 2021) (Subject to change).

Who: 60 global startup teams will be selected.

What: Acceleration program, mentoring, 1:1 business meeting, Korean intern provided, settlement fund (top 30-60), prizes (top 10), office space.

Where: Startup Campus in Pangyo Techno Valley, 14 minutes south of Gangnam, South Korea.

KSGC 2021 will offer the 60 selected teams and entrepreneurs an all-expenses-paid, 3.5-month residency program in South Korea including access to expert guidance/mentoring, co-working spaces, state-of-art R&D labs, corporate partnerships, entry to Asian markets, networking opportunities and much more. 

Pangyo Techno Valley
Pangyo Techno Valley

Who can apply? – The startups should be less than seven years old, or they could be technology-based startups that have a prototype/product/service and are at an initial investment stage. This year, the challenge is open to university students as well.  The startups must have a clear interest in expanding into the Korean and East Asian markets.

After the completion of the accelerator programme, the government will host a demo day in late November to select the top 30 startups. These startups will get additional financial incentives. In case they choose to establish their businesses in Korea, they will also get additional support from the government. The top ten startups get a chance to win grants worth US$ 320,000. The first-place team will receive US$ 120,000.

Grant for Top 10 Startups

1st Prize : US$ 120,000 (₩132,000,000)
2nd Prize :US$ 70,000 (₩77,000,000)
3rd Prize : US$ 40,000 (₩44,000,000)
4th Prize : US$ 25,000 (₩27,500,000)
5th Prize : US$ 15,000 (₩16,500,000)
6-10th Prize : US$ 10,000 each (₩55,000,000)

Why South Korea?

Home to some of the most innovative industries and companies in the world such as Samsung, Hyundai, LG and The Shinhan Group, South Korea’s vibrant economy and outstanding performance in R&D, makes it an attractive destination for entrepreneurs. The country also holds the number one position in the Bloomberg Innovation Index for 2021. It has a robust infrastructure, high-speed internet, fastest 5G roll-out making it a highly developed nation in Asia. With 221 accelerators and 134 innovation centres as of February 2020, South Korea also has one of the most vibrant startup ecosystems in the world. The startups can take advantage of the country’s strong cultural and economic ties with China, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and more, to expand across the Asian market.

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