All you need to know about the world’s largest 3-month global accelerator programme: The K-Startup Grand Challenge

As the world’s largest three-month global accelerator programme, the K-Startup Grand Challenge (KSGC) is a project conducted and financed by the South Korean government. It offers a fantastic global platform for startups looking to expand across the robust Asian market, via South Korea.

All you need to know about the world’s largest 3-month global accelerator programme: The K-Startup Grand Challenge

Thursday May 18, 2023,

4 min Read

The KSGC is an inbound programme designed to attract promising foreign startups to Korea, organised and funded by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups of the Republic of Korea. The programme is run with the objective of supporting promising foreign startups to enter Korean and international markets, and promoting Korea as the global leading startup business hub.

The challenge helps startups to leverage the fantastic startup ecosystem in the country together with various advantages of the programme (funding opportunities included) to launch and scale across Korea and Asia.

What are the most compelling incentives to apply for the challenge?

The K-Startup Grand Challenge can provide you and your startup with the support, mentorship and opportunities for investment that you need to launch your business in South Korea and expand across Asia. The benefits include:

01. Access to state-of-the-art Korean R&D labs

02. A $270,000 prize pool

03.$10,840 grants and living expenses during the programme

04. Free office and project space

05.1:1 acceleration

06. Opportunities for linkage with Korean corporations

07. Advice on patents, tax laws, accounting, culture etc.

08. Potential for additional investment

09. An assigned Korean intern

10. Visa assistance and more.

Participating in 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 a mutual exchange of information with technology research institutes and large, global companies.

What are the eligibility criteria to apply for the challenge?

Promising startups with a clear objective to expand into Asia by using the Korean market as a stepping stone may register and apply for the challenge if they meet the key requirements below:

1. A startup or a pre-startup team with no more than seven years of establishment, and whose representative has foreign nationality.

2. The team must have a clear growth objective for entering the overseas market, with their base in the Korean market and the goal of settling down in Korea.

3. The team leader and members must not be disqualified from staying in Korea or acquiring a related visa in Korea.

4. The team must have people who can communicate in English (required) and Korean (optional) to establish a business in Korea. There are no other limitations such as investment or revenue status, etc.

What are the evaluation criteria for KSGC?

The evaluation for the application document shall be based on the business plan, idea, Asian market fit, strategy and execution, and the team. The interview evaluation will assess the applicant’s target market, the relevance of the problem, need and solution, the team, the board, mentors and advisors, traction, competition vs. competitive advantages, revenue model, financial projections, Asian market fit, overall presentation, and the Q&A.

Do I need to be fluent in Korean to participate? What is the official language in the KSGC programme?

The official language for the KSGC is English. All participating teams are required to have at least one English-speaking member. Having a Korean speaker would be optional. Teams will also have Korean interns working with them (one intern for every two teams) to help with language and cultural barriers during the programme.

Will my living expenses be covered during the programme?

Yes. Each of the 60 startups participating in the programme will receive monetary aid of $10,840 (₩12,250,000) per team to cover the living expenses during the 3.5-month stay in Korea.

Furthermore, each of the selected top 30 startups will subsequently receive grants of $10,840 (₩12,250,000) per team for the period of 3.5 months.

The programme also 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.

Will I have access to mentors from the local ecosystem?

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.

Will I have access to corporate partnerships in Korea?

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

Is there potential for additional investment through the programme?

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

Where do I learn more about the challenge and apply?

Know more about K-Startup Grand Challenge 2023 by registering and applying for the challenge,

Hurry! Applications close on May 18, 2023.