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Residency and Acceleration program for global startups aiming for the South Korea and East Asia markets

The K-Startup Grand Challenge 2021 is a successful startup acceleration program run by the South Korean government, South Korea’s Ministry of SMEs and Startups (MSS), and the National IT Industry Promotion Agency (NIPA).


South Korea’s startup ecosystem had a successful 2021 despite reeling from the effects of the global coronavirus pandemic. Sendbird the Korean chat API raised $100 million in a Series C round valued at  $1.05 billion. Sendbird is one of the 12 unicorn startups in South Korea. Coupang, the country’s largest e-commerce company raised $4.6 billion in a huge IPO later in the year. The first quarter of 2021 saw 34 mostly tech startup companies apply for IPOs at the Korea Exchange (KRX).

Startups globally can now apply to South Korea’s government-backed acceleration program, the K-Startup Grand Challenge 2021 which began accepting applications from April 15. The program gives startups across the globe the perfect springboard into South Korea and wider Asia markets.

60 teams and entrepreneurs taking part in the KSGC 2021 will get an all-expense paid for trip accompanied by a three-and-a-half-month residency program in South Korea. Covered in the package are co-working spaces, expert guidance, corporate partnerships, state-of-art R&D labs, and an opportunity for entry into the Asian markets.

KSGC 2021 will run from a tech hub startup campus in Pangyo Techno Valley. The top 10 startups will also accrue grants worth $320,000 while those that are first placed could win a  $120,000 prize.

How to qualify for KSGC 2021

The startup must be less than seven years old and come from a foreign nationality. There must also be an interest in expanding into the Korean/East Asian markets. First launched in 2016, KSGC promotes an open entrepreneurship ecosystem across Asia and helps in South Korea’s evolution into a prominent startup and business hub.

Get the full details of the program here.

You can find more information on the program on the website, or Facebook and Linkedin pages.


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