Korea’s K-Startup Grand Challenge seeks 50 global startups

  • Programme includes initial funds, mentorship, access to investment opportunities and grants
  • Applications are open from now until June 14


Korea’s K-Startup Grand Challenge seeks 50 global startups


SOUTH Korea will host the second K-Startup Grand Challenge (KSGC) in Seoul from August 7 to Nov 30, 2017. KSGC will bring together select startups from across the globe, including Indonesia, as part of an intensive acceleration programme.

KSGC is conducted and funded by the South Korean government and lead accelerator partner Shift. The programme aims to promote the expansion of an open entrepreneurship ecosystem in Asia and assist in South Korea’s evolution into a prominent regional startup hub.

Shift. is a South Korean accelerator and investing studio that specialises in startups with Asia as its target market.  They picked last year’s KSGC participants and will continue to search for the best startups to invest in and support throughout the programme.

“The world’s next generation of unicorns are most likely to be winners of the Asian market. We see no reason for startups from other regions not to take part in this opportunity. South Korea is offering a comprehensive solution to fuel the growth of these companies and enable them get more involved in the vast East and Southeast Asian (SEA) market, home to two billion potential consumers,” said Shift. senior executive director Juno Kwon (pic) in Jakarta recently.

One of the key purposes of KSGC and the strong government support is to promote vigorous collaboration and an exchange of ideas between domestic and foreign startups. KSGC will act as a linchpin to startups where new ideas merge and collide, leading to new creations for Asia.

South Korea is appealing to tech startups as the country has the fastest average Internet connection in the world, while having a high number of early adopters of new technology who are willing to buy newly-released technology for consumer testing.

Following last year’s success, the programme this year will invite 50 startups for a fully supported acceleration program in Seoul with over US$800,000 in grants up for grabs.

For the final 50 teams, each team will get US$833 (1,000,000 KRW) as an audition prize (up to two persons per team). Each of the top 25 startups, selected during the final Demo Day, will receive US$27,000 (32,000,000 KRW) if they set up a legal entity in Korea. The top four teams will be rewarded with grants of between US$6,000 and US$100,000. Impressive startups may also be offered equity investment opportunities from accelerators and local VCs.

South Korea is home to global brands such as Samsung, LG and Hyundai that have signed on to support KSGC.

“Shift. as an investment entity, has wide connections with several big shareholders. Through partnerships, it will be helpful for startups to meet Korean investors in this programme,” Kwon says.

The successful applicants or teams will go to South Korea for four months where they will be provided with office space, flights and expenses along with everything in between to give them good chance to expand their business all over Asia and even globally.

Ensuring a smooth expansion for its selected startups in the market, Shift. will provide everything needed to develop the business including several choices of syllabus to choose from, mentoring sessions with the experts, networking, business analysis and consulting.

“Some of Indonesian startups only focus on the local market and some want to reach a global market. This programme will help them obtain more chances and options in the industry,” Kwon told Digital News Asia (DNA).

Kwon says that there are no limitation for startups to join the competition as long as they have clear goals and understand what they are going to do in Seoul if they are selected.

“However, it will be hard to if a startup only comes with an idea. We encourage startups to have traction as well,” he adds.

Kwon says that Indonesian startups have to compete with their peers in the programme and if they are selected, they have to adapt to the different culture and society in South Korea.

“I believe that startups in Korea and Indonesia face different markets but this create a chance to collaborate instead of compete,” he explains.

About one thousand entrepreneurs and startups have already applied for this year’s KSGC. Applications will close on June 14, 2017.


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