South American Startups can expand to Asia through the South Korean Government’s K-Startup Grand Challenge

K-Startup Grand Challenge (KSGC) is the South Korean government’s largest accelerator program for foreign startups. They are now inviting startups and entrepreneurs from around the world to apply for its 2022 edition.

South American startups can leverage the KSGC program to expand to South Korea. Launched in 2016, the program provides regulatory support and industry linkages for startups that want to enter Korea 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.

The 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. Each of them 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 their business in Korea. Team members will receive settlement grants and visa support as part of the program. 

The Selection Process and the KSGC 2022 Program

The last date for submitting applications is May 31st, 2022. An expert panel of judges will then review the applications, and the global audition process for the top 60 teams will be held from June 20th to 24th, 2022, with the result announcement on June 30th. Startups less than 7 years old or at a pre-entrepreneur stage whose representative holds a foreign nationality can also participate. 

At the end of this 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 supporting fee of $11,136 through a settlement program, which will be held from January 15th to June 30th, 2023.  

What can startups expect at KSGC? 

In the last six years of the KSGC program, many startups have successfully established their businesses in Korea and Southeast Asia. The program supports startups financially and also gives them multiple opportunities to network with top tech companies, VCs, mentors, etc.

“Manufacturing in Asia is huge. Among 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 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.

This year, five Korean accelerators will be assisting foreign startups through this program – CNT Tech, Yozma Group Korea, Bigbang Angels, Pen Ventures, and Nautilus Investment

KSGC is hosted by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups (MSS) and organized by the National IT Industry Promotion Agency (NIPA). 

You can visit their website for further information and to apply to the K-Startup Grand Challenge.

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