Ideas. Innovation. Impact. The world is changing at a rapid pace with the rise of new technology transforming everything as we know it. This is an exciting time as entrepreneurs and businesses ride the thrilling, awe-inspiring wave of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, creating surprise, wonder and something meaningful along the way. Culture and commerce converge with groundbreaking advancements happening across the spheres of Blockchain, Big Data, Biotech, Artificial Intelligence and beyond. At this pivotal point, there is an unparalleled opportunity for new game-changers to be part of this important movement.
One place is at the forefront of all the action. South Korea is leading the way, landing the number one spot for the second year in a row on the 2019 Bloomberg Innovation Index which measures research and development spending, manufacturing capability and other core benchmarks. Given the social, political and economic climate, the dynamic destination—and modern gateway to Asia—has proven to be quite the compelling choice for launching businesses thanks to its vibrant energy, sound infrastructure, strong governmental support, and other unique advantages. Just recently, South Korean President Moon Jae-in expressed a steadfast commitment to assisting startups as they begin the scaling stage. In 2019 alone, governmental administrative funds set aside for startups reached $1.03 billion USD, and there are even more plans to invest another $12 billion USD over the next four years as well as to increase the number of unicorn startups by 20 until 2020.
If the thought of being immersed in Korea’s innovative landscape seems especially intriguing, entrepreneurs from across the globe should set their sights on participating in the 2019 K-Startup Grand Challenge. Supported by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups of South Korea, the ambitious initiative provides invaluable support and comprehensive resources to early age startups. Applications for the competitive acceleration program are currently being accepted through June 14, 2019. In order to advance in the K-Startup Grand Challenge, teams must pass a regional audition.
Afterward, a judging panel of startup ecosystem experts and Korean accelerators will select 40 teams to participate in an enriching 3.5 month-long acceleration program in Korea.
The winning teams will have exclusive access to free office space at the Startup Campus in Pangyo Techno Valley, one-on-one mentoring, information sessions, coaching on Korean and Asian business culture and the chance to attend insightful seminars touching on a range of topics accounting regulations to tax laws, patents and more. Ample opportunities for networking and the chance to meet with executives from major Korean companies spanning from smartphones to semiconductors that are interested in collaborating with startups are also in store. Assistance will also be available to foreign nationals who need help securing a proper visa through the Startup Immigration Support System of the National IT Industry Promotion Agency (NIPA), the Korean government organization hosting the program, which also has the distinction of being the “Global Center for Startup and Immigration.”
As for financial support, the top 40 teams of the K-Startup Grand Challenge will receive a total of $10,840 over 3.5 months to cover living expenses. In addition, the top 20 startups will be eligible to receive a total of $10,840 each in additional grants for settlement in Korea based on the results of their Demo Day in early December and settlement evaluation. It will certainly be interesting to see what brilliant ideas the teams present from AI, Blockchain, IoT, Big Data, Cloud, FinTech, 5G, Smart City, Robotics, Information Security, Software, Smart Factory, Wearable, Logistic, Digital Content, Urban Solutions, Biotech, UHD, Gaming, Beauty and other sectors.
Since its inception, the K-Startup Grand Challenge has proven to be an outstanding success, fostering growth and new opportunities for international startups. Last year, 1,771 startups from 108 countries competed for a coveted spot in the program. Other than the last two years, 2016-2018, the Challenge has led to remarkable results for participants including 64 new business entities established in Korea, close to 700 meetings with major Korean companies, SMEs, startups, and venture capital firms, among other notable accomplishments.
If you are ready to take your business to the next level and would like to participate in the 2019 K-Startup Grand Challenge, visit the official website(www.k-startupgc.org) and Facebook page (www.facebook.com/kstartupgc) for more information and further updates.