Korea: K-Startup Grand Challenge offers support, funding for international startups

South Korea is trying to attract international startups to the country through the K-Startup Grand Challenge project, aiming to transform itself into a startup hub of Asia.

K-Startup Grand Challenge is calling for applications to be submitted by June 14, following which, there will be first elimination round to select 80 teams.

The top 20 startups to emerge from the next round will be in the six-month acceleration programme, and also receive $33,000 support each.

Meanwhile, the final four from the demo day will receive up to $100,000 additional funding. During the nine-month span of the project, startups will have the opportunity to be invested-in by the accelerators and the venture capital firms based in South Korea.

In addition, selected startups will also receive sponsorship and mentoring from large incubators and conglomerates in the countries, such as ActnerLab, SparkLabs, Samsung, LG, LotteHanwha, Doosan and Kakao.

“The purpose of (the Korean government)  for this kind of event is that the government wants to build a creative economy by encouraging the startup ecosystem,” said Hyuck Jun Kwon, K-Startup Grand Challenge programme coordinator, in an interaction with DEALSTREETASIA during the AIESEC International Startup Meeting in Hanoi on Sunday.

K-Startup Grand Challenge is the first initiative by the Korean government to let startups from Asia and other parts of the world know about the opportunities in this country, which Kwon considered as a test pad for the startups.

Since 2013, Korea has been injecting around $2 billion each year into its startup ecosystem, as president Geun-Hye Park initiated to drive the “creative economy”.

The startups who finish the nine-month project are encouraged to stay in Korea, using the country as a foothold for their regional cooperation, even though there are no commitments to bind them with the local government.

K-Startup Grand Challenge is ignited as there are a lot of other Asian cities as competitors for being a location of startups, like Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore or Cyberjaya.

While the programme is targeting the global market, Kwon alleges that Asian startups have more advantages in applying for the event, and it is also an opportunity for synchronising regional strengths.

Speaking about Vietnamese startups, he revealed that Korea expected to get only 15 applications from Vietnam. But Kwon, who has spent some 12 years in the investment advisory industry in Vietnam, said he did not want people to underestimate the Vietnamese startup ecosystem.

“Vietnam has strong communities of startups in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and the country has produced a lot of success stories,” he said. “There is a larger startup ecosystem in Vietnam than the Korean government actually expects. I trust in this market and hope to see more Vietnamese startups in these nine months in Korea.”

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.