Winners of the 2019 K-Startup Grand Challenge say why it makes a great springboard for starting up


The 2019 edition of the K-Startup Grand Challenge saw more than 1,600 other startups from 95 countries apply and compete. From these numerous applicants, 38 were selected to participate in the 3.5 month-long acceleration programme, and received initial funding and office space.

The programme culminated with a highly publicised Demo Day, where the top 20 teams were selected and awarded with additional prizes. They were given additional funds for 3.5 months that helped them to successfully startup in South Korea.

Here’s a look at the top four winners of the 2019 edition and their innovative solutions.

1st place - NR2

Startups are always on the lookout for the right investors, who in turn hunt for the best, innovative ventures. French startup NR2 is making this search easier with its AI-enabled search engine that helps investors worldwide find the most promising startups. Founded in February 2019, the startup beat more than 1600 other startups from 95 countries to win the first place at the K-startup Grand Challenge 2019.

While initially focussed on China, NR2 co-founder Jordan Monnet says he was inspired by the huge amount of innovation coming out of South Korea.

“I had an idea of how innovative Korea was. But being here and experiencing things first-hand made me realise just how true it was. And that’s why I actually stayed here. There is such a vibrant ecosystem here, so many companies, creating things that are fascinating,” he says.

Powered by big data and artificial intelligence, NR2’s platform delivers insights that predict trends in innovation before they sweep the globe, making them great contenders for the K-Startup Grand Challenge.

2nd place - GIBLIB

Named after Dr. John Heysham Gibbon, who invented the heart-lung machine, GIBLIB creates high-quality educational videos from subject matter experts from leading academic medical centres and streams on-demand to medical professionals globally.

Founder and CEO Brian Conyer, with an experience of over 10 years in the healthcare sector, started GIBLIB to help physicians stay up-to-date on medical procedures and large amounts of vital information as well as to bridge the knowledge gap in medicine between the developed world and the economically poor regions.

3rd place - Inspire Me Korea

Travel and business are making the world smaller. However, how much do we really know about the culture of countries across the world? Inspire Me Korea is trying to change that with its monthly Korean culture subscription box service to make Korean products more accessible internationally. This service was started by two UK-based sisters, Diana and Alice with a belief that people should be able to experience the world without huge budgets and getting on a plane.

Inspire Me Korea ships curated Korean experiences in a box worldwide with boxes like the K-beauty box which contains Korean makeup essentials, a BTS box with BTS merchandise from posters, postcards and photos, a K-SNACKS box etc.

4th place - imports multi-category products and commodities in India. Founded by Naveen Peter and Rony J. Palathinkal, they work closely with B2B buyers in India and source products from global manufacturers and suppliers. Their platform is an AI-based export distribution channel for exporters to introduce/promote products to Indian buyers, and receive large-sized import orders from India.

The K-Startup Grand Challenge 2020, hosted by National IT Industry Promotion Agency (NIPA) of the Republic of Korea, is a fantastic global platform for startups looking to expand across Asia or develop their innovations in South Korea.

There are many compelling reasons to sign up for the challenge. These include 1:1 accelerating, linkage with Korean corporations and other great incentives, including a $240,000 prize pool, and many more.

Your startup could break into the robust Asian market next! Apply for the K-Startup Challenge 2020 here!


Updates from around the world