The K-Startup Grand Challenge (KSGC) is a startup accelerator program supported by the South Korean government. Returning for its 7th year, the program aims at bringing international startups, with a focus on SEA and ANZ startups. Applications opened on 15 April 2022 and will close on 31 May 2022 for startups keen on the opportunity to work and build a strong foundation in South Korea.
KSGC was launched by the National IT Industry Promotion Agency (NIPA) in 2016 and has been integral in connecting promising startups from around the world to South Korea. The government is committed to making the country a startup and innovation powerhouse and has invested an average of USD $2 billion yearly since 2013 towards that goal.
Through the COVID-19 pandemic, the KSGC program has proven to be one of the safest, and most sought-after accelerator programs internationally. Over 2,600 global startups applied from 118 countries for the KSGC 2020 batch. To date, the program has resulted in 109 startups from across 44 countries setting up their base of operations in Korea.
“During our time with the KSGC program, the KSGC team and mentors helped us secure pilot tests, and networking opportunities with leading players like Samsung and LG Chem, as well as the local battery industry players. The program was instrumental in our internationalisation efforts out of Singapore into South Korea.” Said Joshua Sunny Chuah, co-founder of Anzene, a Singapore smart battery startup company from the KSGC 2019 batch.
KSGC 2022 will offer 60 startups from around the world that are less than 7 years old a 3.5 month residency program from 1 August to 15 November. Applications open on 15 April and close on 31 May 2022. Each startup’s representative must be of foreign nationality, and express a clear interest to expand into the Korean and East Asian markets. There is a cash prize for the top 10 startups, with USD $120,000 for the winner.
The program will be conducted in Pangyo Techno Valley. Participants will have their living expenses covered, and be provided with free office and project spaces to work from. Startups will have access to mentors, consultants, and business development teams to help fulfil their potential and aid in their localisation efforts.
With more than 10 startup unicorns based in South Korea, focusing on startup diversity by bringing innovation and ideas from SEA could be the key to the future of the tech scene in Korea. Mr Shin Sung Woo, director of KICC Singapore says, “We have seen many strong and varied applicants from South East Asia for the program, and they have done well across the years. We are excited to see how the South East Asian applicants will surprise us for KSGC 2022.”