K-Startup Grand Challenge(KSGC) 2022 edition has opened its doors for global startups to do business in South Korea. The biggest accelerator program, sponsored by the Korean government, supported by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups (MSS), and organized by the National IT Industry Promotion Agency (NIPA), will be held for 3.5 months at the sprawling 661,928m campus of Pangyo Techno Valley.
The startup accelerator program, launched in 2016, supports foreign startups that want to enter the Korean market and further explore the international markets. Over the years, the program has supported startups and businesses that have succeeded in multiple fields globally like Artificial Intelligence, fintech, logistics, biotechnology, robotics, game development, IoT, e-commerce, etc.
The participating startups come from various countries across Europe, North America, and Southeast Asia. The ultimate goal of KSGC is to promote the expansion of open entrepreneurship in Asia and assist in South Korea’s evolution as a prominent business hub in the region.
KSGC 2022 started receiving applications from startups on April 15 and the last date for startups to apply for the most sought after program in Asia is soon on May 31. Startups, innovators, and entrepreneurs, who want to experience the business ecosystem in Korea and Asia, should take action soon enough.
KSGC 2022 at Pangyo Techno Valley
Every year the KSGC program is held at the Pangyo Techno Valley campus, located to the south of Seoul in Gyeonggi Province. The campus is a hub with high-tech facilities like a Global R&D Center, the Public Support Center, and the Industry-Academy R&D Center. Korea’s best ICT-based R&D innovation cluster is located on the campus, with a total of 5.27 trillion won (around US$4.2 billion) invested by the South Korean government.
The campus provides an apt environment where SMEs and startups can exchange information with high-tech research institutes and large global companies. This hub aims to merge different industrial sectors, mostly within information and communications technology, to create new business opportunities and foster the growth of startups. Born2Global Center reports that Korea’s top 60 startups and the K-Global 300 startups are located in the Pangyo Startup Campus.
The Startup Campus in Pangyo is located within walking distance of many of Korea’s top tech companies and just a 14-minute subway ride away from the famous Gangnam district of Seoul.
Five guaranteed support at KSGC 2022
In the last six years of the KSGC program, many startups have successfully established their businesses in Korea and Southeast Asia. The 3.5-month program supports startups financially and gives them multiple opportunities to network with top tech companies, VCs, mentors, etc.
In its inception year itself, KSGC received an overwhelming response with applications from 2,439 startup teams from 124 countries. In 2021, KSGC got 2,568 applications from 129 countries, with 54 startup teams finally selected to participate. The KSGC 2021 top winning startup Khenda from Turkey, an AI-based video analytics platform that helps manufacturing plants increase their efficiency at production lines by analyzing manual activities, is already tasting success in Korea.” As Khenda, we expanded our operations by making great progress during the 3.5 months when we opened up to the Asian market and increased our business activities. Additionally, we got introduced to one of the respectable businessmen in South Korea, Dong Hoon Shin, through KSGC. Shin is now part of our Advisory Board,” said Aykan Ekici, co-founder of Khenda, the top winner of KSGC 2021.
“The KSGC provides you with the connections that will help you build your company and develop a strong network in Korea,” said Chea Srun, CEO of XQuant, a startup from Hong Kong. XQuant is Asia’s leading specialist in using AI to process text documents, extract meanings and perform data analysis and second prize winner of KSGC 2021.
In 2022, KSGC will welcome more innovative startups and entrepreneurs to bring their unique businesses to Korea. The 2022 program, which will host 60 best global startups, will be held from August 1st to November 15th, 2022. Furthermore, the top 30 teams will get an extension to stay and work in Korea with financial support from January 15th to June 30th, 2023.
1.) Full financial support & top performing team prizes
The most significant aspect of the KSGC program is the financial support. The top 60 teams selected for the acceleration program will receive US$11,136 per team to cover the living expenses over 3.5 months. Additionally, the top 30 startups selected will be eligible to receive an additional US$11,136 per team to settle down in Korea based on their “Demo Day” and settlement evaluation results.
The Demo Day will be part of the largest startup event in South Korea – “COMEUP 2022.” The startup teams will get the opportunity to feature pitches to potential investors, partners, and business conglomerates. At the end of the two-day ‘Demo Day’ event, KSGC 2022 committee will announce the top ten performing teams for the year, who will get monetary grants worth $320,000.
COMEUP is a global flagship startup event attended by startup founders, investors, VCs, entrepreneurs, and media. The annual event has numerous programs such as lectures, panel discussions, IR, networking, exhibitions, startup ecosystem tours, and joint private-public events.
2.) Office space & facilities at Pangyo for startups
The 60 startup teams will get their own office space in Pangyo Techno Valley, easily accessible by bus and subway from Gangnam. The 3.5-month program will help startups expand their business in Korea and introduce them to various mentors and Korean partners via business meetings and networking. The teams will have access to all sorts of equipment and facilities at Pangyo to develop further their products and services, including a production space, 3D printers, hardware testing platforms, and more.
3.) Guidance & assistance by top Korean accelerators
During the 3.5-month acceleration program, the 60 selected startup teams will be working under the mentorship of five prominent Korean accelerators. The five accelerators will guide and assist 12 teams each in developing their business model to more closely fit the Korean market and, subsequently, the Asian market. This year, five excellent Korean accelerators to assist foreign startups in growing in Korea are CNT Tech, Yozma Group Korea, Bigbang Angels, Pen Ventures, and Nautilus Investment.
4.) Information sessions & networking with Korean corporates
This program will give access to 1-on-1 mentoring, information sessions, coaching on Korean and Asian business culture, and seminars on topics like patents, accounting regulations, tax laws, and more. The startups will also have access to regular networking sessions and opportunities to meet with large Korean conglomerates eager to partner with startups.
5.) Visas, administrative support & Interns
The selected startup teams will get full support for visa acquisition in a timely manner. This is a part of the government’s OASIS (Overall Assistance for Start-up Immigration System) program, organized especially for foreign entrepreneurs. Beyond the help with visas, the startups will have access to administrative support to make sure that they can work conveniently and effectively while in Korea. To help startups overcome language and cultural barriers, a Korean intern, fluent in English/Korean, will be provided for every two teams. The Korean intern will help with translation and interpretation and more.
Who can apply for KSGC 2022?
- Startups less than seven years old or Pre-entrepreneur whose representative holds a foreign nationality.
- Promising startups with a clear objective to expand into Asia by using the Korean market as a stepping stone.
Timeline for KSGC 2022 Program
- The application process for global startups: April 15 to May 31, 2022
- Review by a panel of judges & global audition for top 60 teams: June 20 to 24, 2022
- Final 60 teams selection result announcement: June 30, 2022
- Accelerator program to be held in South Korea: August 1 to November 15, 2022
- Demo day where the top 10 teams will get prizes: November 9 -11, 2022
- Further settlement program for top 30 teams: January 15 to June 30, 2023
For further information and the application for K-Startup Grand Challenge,