The fifth K-Startup Grand Challenge (KSGC) 2020 saw a 33 % surge in entries than last year. The widely acclaimed program backed by the Korean government for promising global startups had started its campaign for this year amidst fears of the COVID-19 pandemic. The surge in the number of entries is a promising story for the global startup ecosystem.
K-Startup Grand Challenge program organized by the National IT Industry Promotion Agency, South Korea, will host participating teams from 93 countries for this year’s program. Despite a turbulent economic condition and an increase in the number of COVID-19, the program has attracted entrepreneurs from the USA. South Korea has shown resilient recovery from the COVID-19 outbreak, and its economy is slowly set to mend with the lowest expected GDP decline among most developed nations.
“The K-Startup Grand Challenge gives entrepreneurs the chance to develop, get the necessary resources to succeed, all while being a part of South Korea’s bustling tech hub Pangyo Techno Valley,” said Taeyeol Kim, vice president at the National IT Industry Promotion Agency (NIPA). “Since the start of this year’s program, we have seen an increase in applicants worldwide, and I believe that is a testament to how impactful our program is and our uniquely favored location during this pandemic.”
The K-Startup Grand Challenge Program will host 60 competing teams in South Korea’s Pangyo Techno Valley for a 3-month accelerator program. The program includes:
• Living expenses for each team
• A free office space
• Networking and information sessions on Korean and Asian business culture and specific business topics (e.g., patents, accounting, regulations, tax laws, etc.)
• Visa support
• Exposure to major Korean companies
K-Startup Grand Challenge applications closed this year on June 25th, 2020. The KSGC 2020 is now set for global online auditions.
Now it is time to be ready for the global audition! 👨💼👩💼
The audition will be held from July 9th to July 15th.
Positive responses from KSGC Alum
“We started VRGlass three years ago in Brazil, and participating in the K-Startup Grand Challenge Program has exposed us to VCs and allowed us to globalize our company by providing a direct connection and avenue to the South Korean market,” said César Noda, CEO at VRGlass Korea and 2019 Grand Challenge alum. “Because of the program, I am now the CEO managing VRGlass’s South Korea office. While the pandemic has affected our business, we’ve seen firsthand the benefits of having a presence in such a stable country amid the turmoil these past few months.”
KSGC offers the top five startups grand prizes ranging from $10,000 to $120,000. Grants for the top 30 startups are available, totalling ~$15,500 each (for 2-person teams).
“The Grand Challenge Program was a great opportunity to bring our made-in-the-USA products to Korea, as well as develop specialized educational services to serve the Korean market,” said Tim Marzullo, co-founder of Michigan-headquartered Backyard Brains and 2019 Grand Challenge alum.
“Since the program, I stayed on to build our team and operations here. Because of the government’s effective response to the pandemic, we’ve been highly productive even while our US branch had to dramatically slow down operations for two months. I can understand why entrepreneurs have increased interest in applying and working on their businesses in South Korea.”
The program is scheduled to be held from September 1st, 2020, to November 30th, 2020. The top 30 will attend the demo day from November 19th to 21, 2020, and get further support for business development from January to April 2021.
About K-Startup Grand Challenge
The K-Startup Grand Challenge is a technology startup accelerator program for foreign startups backed by the South Korean government that hosts teams in Korea for a three-month program with multiple funding opportunities. This program is a part of the Government of South Korea’s plan to support entrepreneurs and startups in the country to enhance and grow South Korea’s Pangyo Techno Valley into a global tech hub for Asia.
For more information, visit https://www.k-startupgc.org/.