South Korea Holds K-Startup Grand Challenge 2021

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The prizes are quite tempting. The top 10 startups will be entitled to a grant worth USD320,000, of which the 1st place winner will receive USD120,000.

The South Korean government is again holding the 2021 K-Startup Grand Challenge (KSGC 2021). This is a global startup acceleration program organized and funded by the Korean Government and the National IT Industry Promotion Agency (NIPA).

Startups from all over the world, including Indonesia, can submit applications to take part in the 2021 KSGC, until June 15, 2021. Based on the releases distributed to the media, so far more than 1,500 startups have registered.

Through KSGC 2021, participants hope to expand their market to South Korea and also the Asian market. KSGC 2021 offers the opportunity for 60 selected teams and entrepreneurs to take part in a 3.5-month training program in South Korea. All costs will be borne by the South Korean Government. During the program, participants will be accompanied by experts in their fields, co-working space facilities, access to research and development (R&D) laboratories, collaboration with companies, access to Asian markets, and others.

This startup acceleration program will be held at the Pangyo Techno Valley startup campus, located in Seoul. The prizes are quite tempting. The top 10 startups will be entitled to a grant worth USD320,000, of which the 1st place winner will receive USD120,000. To register, the startup must be less than 7 years old, and the representative must be a non-Korean citizen. They must also show a clear interest in expanding into the Korean and East Asian markets.

For information, the K-Startup Grand Challenge was first launched in 2016, aiming to expand the open entrepreneurial ecosystem in Asia and help South Korea’s evolution into a regional business and startup hub. In 2020, even though the world was hit by Covid-19, the number of startups registering for the event actually increased by 58 percent. A total of 2,648 teams registered from 118 countries.

Several startups from around the world have expanded into South Korea and East Asia through this program. One of them is Ommo Technologies, a healthcare company from Texas, United States, which has expanded its reach to the Asian Market by participating in the KSGC 2020 program.

Since joining the KSGC program in the summer of 2020, Ommo technologies has earned $3 million in investment led by Korean investors.

“KSGC helped pave the way for us to reach out to potential partners and investors. The Korean government not only supports domestic startups, but also helps international startups find their home in Korea and take advantage of the support provided by the government, the KSGC is a symbol of that support. When successfully running a business in Korea, the whole of Asia is within reach,” said Kyul Ko, Co-founder and COO, Ommo Technologies.

Although still hit by the pandemic, the growth of startups in Korea is still encouraging. The Korean Chat API startup, Senbird, for example, raised USD 100 through Series C funding, increasing its valuation to USD 1.05 billion. Senbird is now one of 12 unicorn startups from South Korea.

Korea’s largest e-commerce company, Coupang, also managed to raise USD 4.6 billion through its initial public offering (IPO) in the United States this year. In the first quarter of 2021, at least 34 companies (many of which are startups) have submitted IPO applications to the Korea Exchange (KRX). If you have a startup and are interested in participating in KSGC 2021, see more information at the following link.


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