South Korea Launches K-Startup Grand Challenge

South Korea Initiates Startup Accelerator Program

The country’s government is making a significant effort to bring more diversity and enhancements to its tech industry by creating an accelerator for startups from around the globe, TechCrunch reported late last week.

The government has pledged nearly $2 billion per year since 2013 to support the local startup landscape. But the K-Startup Grand Challenge program, organized by South Korea’s Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP), in partnership various Seoul-based accelerators, marks the first time a specific effort has been made to cultivate and sustain foreign startups.

The end goal is to have more foreign companies set up their businesses in South Korea, which may be more likely to happen as plans for the K-Startup Grand Challenge to become an annual program are in the works.

“Most innovation is borne from diversity — just look at Silicon Valley,” MSIP Director Dr. Chang-yong Ahn told TechCrunch. “At this stage, the startup and business ecosystem in Korea lacks a high level of diversity, and the K-Startup Grand Challenge is one step towards creating a more diverse business environment in Korea.”

The three-month program is expected to begin in September with a selected 40 startups that will receive mentoring and guidance from 15 Korean tech companies, including Samsung and LG Electronics.

Twenty of the participating startups will receive $33,000 in funding from the government, while only the top four will have the chance at snagging an additional $6,000 to $100,000.

The program is looking to accept applications from companies across all industries, especially those with high growth potential — from gaming, finance, biotech and software, to information and communication technologies.

“We would love to see some of the companies incorporate in Korea, leading to the creation of jobs and development of Korea as a regional technology and startup hub,” Ahn added.

To learn more about what countries around the globe are doing to fuel their tech communities, check out the Weekly Tech Center Roundup.


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