South Korean government’s largest accelerator program for foreign startups K-Startup Grand Challenge (KSGC), is inviting applications from startups and entrepreneurs from around the world for its 2022 edition.
KSGC is hosted by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups (MSS) and organized by the National IT Industry Promotion Agency (NIPA).
African startups can leverage the KSGC program to expand to South Korea. By using South Korea as a gateway, the startups can expand to other countries in Asia.
The program provides regulatory support as well as industry linkages to establish a presence in South Korea. Team members receive settlement grants and visa support as part of the program.
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 from multiple fields like Artificial Intelligence, fintech, logistics, biotechnology, robotics, game development, IoT, e-commerce, etc.
K-Startup Grand Challenge 2022 started accepting applications for its 3.5-month-long all-expenses-paid program on April 15th.
This year the program will be held from August 1st to November 15th, 2022, at the Startup Campus in Pangyo Techno Valley near Seoul.
Sixty startup teams will be selected to participate in the program and will receive $11,136 to cover living expenses for the 3.5 months.
For 2022, the top ten performing teams will get monetary grants worth $320,000. Also, the top thirty startups will get further assistance to expand business in Korea.
At the end of the 3.5 months accelerator period, a demo day will be held where the top 10 teams will get prizes.
After the demo day, the top 30 teams will get a settlement supporting fee of $11,136 through a settlement program. The settlement program will be from January 15th to June 30th, 2023.
NB: Startups less than 7 years old or Pre-entrepreneur stage whose representative holds a foreign nationality, can participate.
Benefits of participation
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 also gives them multiple opportunities to network with top tech companies, VCs, mentors, etc. Startups working in the tech industry can look forward to a wider market and also expand to Asia.
“If you’re working on some high-tech products, Korea is the country that will value and protect what you are working on,” said Aykan Ekici, co-founder of Khenda, the top winner of KSGC 2021.
Khenda is a Turkish startup that operates an AI-based video analytics platform that helps manufacturing plants to increase their efficiency at production lines by analyzing manual activities.
“Manufacturing in Asia is huge. Among the other countries in Asia, South Korea is the best country because there’s no cultural barrier here. Also, we believe that this is the best country to protect our intellectual property. South Korea is really good at adapting new technologies earlier. And what we are doing is a new technology. So that’s why we are here,” said Ekici.
Shirley Vega, founder of Glowsome Beauty, one of the top teams in KSGC 2021 said, “It was like a dream for us to participate in KSGC because it’s not only the best program in the country but also has a lot of benefits. One of them is access to mentors and great networking.
We were able to expand our business and meet partners in a way we couldn’t have done without being under the umbrella of this program. Another benefit was the free office space and the other facilities, like meeting rooms. And we got great discounts at the gym and cafeteria, as well.
It made it really affordable for us. Three months go really fast! Start networking and meeting with potential clients from day one. That’s the key to validating your business and localizing it accordingly.”
This year, five excellent Korean accelerators are waiting to assist foreign startups in growing in Korea – CNT Tech, Yozma Group Korea, Bigbang Angels, Pen Ventures, and Nautilus Investment.
How to apply
Are you an African startup? Vistist the KSGC website to apply. The deadline for application is Tuesday. May 31, 2022.
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