K-Startup Grand Challenge 2021 in Korea


Applications are now open for K-Startup Grand Challenge Program 2021! Apply now!

K-Startup Grand Challenge helps startups, like yours, getting on their feet and running with new ideas, encouraging them to merge, collide, and lead on to new innovations. The KSGC is an inbound program designed to attract promising foreign startups to Korea within the “Global Accelerating Activation Program” under the Ministry of SMEs and Startups of the Republic of Korea. The objective, expected outcome, and effects of the KSGC are as follows.

  • (Objective) Supporting promising foreign startups to enter Korean and international markets and promoting Korea as the global leading startup business hub
  • (Expected outcome and effects) The participating teams will establish corporations in Korea and hire Koreans with the objective to run businesses in Korea, as well as create new businesses within Korea and expand to the overseas market, and consequently contribute to the globalization of the Korean startup ecosystem

Startup Grand Challenge has been applauded for its impartial selection processes, participating organizations’ competence and passion. K-Startup Grand Challenge’s impact continues to bolster Korea’s reputation as a leading startup hub in Asia. The key purpose of K-Startup Grand Challenge is to promote collaboration and exchange of ideas among startups from Korea and around the world. If you start your company in Korea, you can take advantage of various supports of this program as well as a surge of momentum into the Asian market thanks to the growing influence of the Korean Wave. In 2021, the K-Startup Grand Challenge can provide you and your startup with the support and opportunities for investment that you need to launch your business in Asia.

Selection Criteria: 

  1. Evaluation for documents shall be based on the criteria below.
    1. Business Plan / Idea / Asian Market fit
    2. Strategy & Execution / Team Building
  2. Evaluation for interview shall be based on the below criteria.
    1. Target Market / Problem or Need / Solution / Team, Board, Advisors
    2. Traction / Competition vs. Competitive Advantages / Revenue Model
    3. Financial Projections / Asian market fit / Overall Presentation · Q&A

Startup Selection Criteria: 

  • Technology-based startups that have prototype or product/service and at initial investment stage
  • Global startups
  • Startups that have been established within that past 7 years are eligible to apply

Regarding the candidate selected, the president of the agency in charge shall confirm the participating teams after legal and institutional review including Korean market regulations and the executing agency’s consent and distribution, but this process does not constitute either approval or guarantee of the legal effectiveness of the participants’ business activities.


  1. Grant Prizes (Jan – Apr 2022):
    • Grant for Top 30 Startup- Each of the selected top 30 startups will be eligible to receive funding for 3.5 months_∙ $10,840 (₩12,250,000) per team of 1 person
    • Grant for Top 10 Startups-
      1st Prize : $120,000 (₩132,000,000)
      2nd Prize : $70,000 (₩77,000,000)
      3rd Prize : $40,000 (₩44,000,000)
      4th Prize : $25,000 (₩27,500,000)
      5th Prize : $15,000 (₩16,500,000)
      6-10th Prize : $10,000 each (₩55,000,000)
  2. Accelerating Program (3.5 months): 60 teams will be selected to join a 3 months-Accelerating program during which they will receive:
    1. A free office space
    2. 1-on-1 mentors
    3. Information sessions on Korean and Asian business culture, as well as specific business topics (e.g. patents, accounting, regulations, tax laws, etc.)
    4. Access to regular networking sessions
    5. Exposure to Korean major companies
  3. Free Office and Project Space: Selected teams will be provided with project space including equipment for product / service production and development, testbeds, as well as an incubating infrastructure at the Startup Campus in Pangyo Techno Valley.
  4. Living Expenses (Aug – Nov 2021): Each of the 60 startups in the program will receive money to cover the living expenses over 3.5 months- ∙ $10,840 (₩12,250,000) per team of 1 person.
    During the quarantine period, participants should pay the cost of isolation housing which Korea Government provides from living expenses (Living expenses include the quarantine fund for 2 weeks before the program starts.)
  5. Korean Interns Support (3.5 months): Provide Korean interns to assist your business in Korea for 3.5 months. (1 intern per 2 teams). There will be a speed dating session, so you could choose your own Korean intern to work with. The intern would definitely help you to tear down the language and cultural barrier, the two most difficult things you could face while pursuing business in a foreign country.
  6. Help Desk & Visas: As the South Korean government supports the improvement in Visa regulations for foreign startups and entrepreneurs through the new OASIS program, Visa-related issues will be taken care of by the Korean government. Also, various services are available for overseas startups such as administrative support, housing and so on.
  7. Corporate Sponsorship and Support: Korea’s largest tech companies will participate in various seminars, workshops, and 1-on-1 mentoring. If you need any help beyond the scope of the K-Startup Grand Challenge program, you can be a partner with these companies and receive resources and their expertise.


  • A startup or a pre-startup team of not more than 7 years, whose representative has foreign nationality
  • The team must have a clear growth objective for entering the overseas market, with their base in the Korean market, with the goal of settling down in Korea.
  • The team leader and members must not be disqualified from staying in Korea or acquiring a related visa in Korea, and the team must have one or more member with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • The team must have people who can communicate in English(required) and Korean(optional) to establish a business in Korea. There is no other limitation such as investment or revenue status, etc.