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South Korea, the innovation powerhouse, is looking to power startups

Ryan Frantz
23rd May 2018
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If you’re a startup or entrepreneur looking to incubate a great idea, or already have a successful startup in your local market and need to expand across the world, South Korea, with its fantastic tech and incubation environment, should be at the top of your list. Since time, speed, tech mentorship and infrastructure are crucial for scaling up and expanding to be a global player, having a powerful partner on your side really helps.


Why Korea?

Korea’s central government has a progressive, hands-on approach to the economy with a strong focus on new policies to kickstart support for and development of new and innovative technologies. According to the 2018 Bloomberg Innovation Index, Korea was number 1 for receiving the most US patents and ranked number 2 in the world for both R&D investment as well as manufacturing. With such a high level of commitment to developing new industry, Korea is undoubtedly the best place for startups to rev up.

Presenting The K-Startup Grand Challenge 2018

The Korean government invests in startups from all over the world through an annual competitive accelerator programme held in Seoulcalled the K-Startup Grand Challenge. This can be the fantastic global platform your startup needs, to help you break into the robust Asian market. Here are some of the many compelling reasons why you must consider applying to this challenge:

Access to state-of-the-art R&D Labs

The challenge will give you access to world-class prototyping, testing facilities and expert support. The Pangyo Techno Valley is an innovation hub where SMEs and startups can participate in mutual exchange of information with technology research institutes and large, global companies.

A grant of USD 100,000 for the winner

The winner will get a grant of USD 100,000 (110,000,000 KRW), with USD 40,000 (44,000,000 KRW), USD 20,000 (22,000,000 KRW) and USD 6,000 (6,600,000 KRW) for the first, second and third runners up – paid in Korean Won.

USD 22,727 grants for the top 40 startups

Each of the top 40 startups selected will be eligible for a total funding of $22,727 for settlement in Korea based on performances on the 'Demo Day' and Settlement Evaluation.

Working out of a brand new, centrally located startup campus

The Global Startup Campus is strategically built just 14 minutes from Gangnam – Seoul’s thriving, upscale business district.

Expert mentorship

You have the chance to be mentored by some of the world’s top tech companies with experience in providing a global platform for startups and SMBs.

Corporate partnerships

The challenge will give you access to Korea’s top tech companies with expertise ranging from smartphones and software to semiconductors.

Living expenses are covered during the program

Each of the 80 startups in the programme will receive about $11,130 to cover living expenses in equal instalments over 3.5 months

Potential for additional investment

Startups will have access to VCs and investors who may choose to invest in them. The programme’s accelerators may make also make equity investments in the most promising startups.

How it works

Start by registering and applying here.

After clearing a regional audition and document screening, 80 teams will be invited to work at the Pangyo Startup Campus with a robust support system for the startups, including mentoring, connections to local companies, and even support for settlement. Startups and entrepreneurs who come to South Korea will be eligible for fast track visas.

The K-Startup Grand Challenge will host a final demo day in early December. Startups will present the progress they have made with their business since joining the Challenge.

The top 40 teams will receive funding for an additional 6 months to stay in Korea and officially launch their business.

In the previous two editions of the programmes, entrepreneurs and startups were able to receive funding of over $26 million in total. They even successfully signed 46 contracts along with over 300 partnerships and MOUs.

Apply here for the K-Startup Grand Challenge 2018

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