K-Startup Grand Challenge 2023 from South Korea: The Most Remarkable Global Accelerator Program Invites Applications from Tech Startups

15-Week Residency Program Open for Technology Startups Seeking to Expand to Asia

The K-Startup Grand Challenge (KSGC), South Korea’s largest accelerator program, has opened applications for its 2023 edition. Overseen by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups and organized by the National IT Industry Promotion Agency, KSGC is accepting startup applications from April 10 to May 18, 2023. The program aims to assist foreign startups looking to enter the Korean market and explore business opportunities in Asia. The 2023 edition of the accelerator, running from July 25 to November 10, will focus on deep tech startups.

Lim Jungwook, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of SMEs and Startups said, “It is a great pleasure to experience the gradual increase in the level and quality of startups applying to the K-Startup Grand Challenge program every year. This year, through the Follow-up program after Demoday, KSGC 2023 offers further support to the Top 20 teams, including commercialization funds such as a PoC(Proof of Concept) project with Korean companies for approximately 8 teams with a maximum funding of $25,000, which will help startups take their innovative ideas to the next level. I encourage global startups to join K-Startup Grand Challenge 2023 and be a part of this innovative journey.

The program will select 60 startups that are less than seven years old, whose representatives hold foreign nationalities and wish to establish an innovative technology business in Korea. Startups with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) or specific plans to relocate their headquarters or establish a company in Korea will be given preference.

The K-Startup Grand Challenge program evaluates startups and pre-startups through a two-step process  (document evaluation and global audition evaluation) including criteria such as problem recognition, feasibility and differentiation, expansion plan, and team. The application period is from April 10 to May 18, 2023, and the program excludes startups that copy or steal others’ ideas or violate contracts.

The 2023 edition is designed for startups operating in deep tech, focused on eight sectors: e-Commerce & Retail, ESG & Green Tech, Food Tech & Agri Tech, Healthcare & Bio, IT & Software, Mobility & Robotics, Manufacturing & IoT, Metaverse & Media.


What can startups expect at KSGC 2023

International startups participating in KSGC 2023 can expect several benefits. Firstly, they will receive commercialization support through mentorship from Korean startup experts and accelerators, assistance with fitting their business model more closely in the Korean market, participation in meetups, and consultation and seminars related to commercialization, contract, tax, law, and policies related to doing business in Korea.

Secondly, startups will receive settlement support, including administrative assistance related to incorporation, visas, and living arrangements. The program will help obtain a Business Startup Visa (D-10-2) and open bank accounts. 

Thirdly, startups will have opportunities to meet Korean companies and investors through business meetings and events organized throughout the program.

Fourthly, startups will be provided with office space in Pangyo Techno Valley, easily accessible by public transportation. A Korean intern, fluent in English and Korean, will help the startups in their Korean operations.

Fifthly, each startup in the program will receive financial benefits, including settlement funds to cover living expenses over the 15-week program period ($10,840 per team). The final Demo Day in November 2023 will select five promising startups for grand prizes. On the final Demo Day, prizes worth approximately $270,000 will be awarded to the top five startups.

The top 20 startups from the program will receive additional follow-up support, including a 15-week  paid extension in Korea from December 1, 2023, to March 29, 2024. These startups will receive all support, including issuing a business startup visa, networking opportunities, office space,  finding interns, etc. The selected startups will also be subject to follow-up financial support of $10,840 only. Additionally, eight startup teams will have the opportunity to get further assistance of  $25,000 and support with commercialization funds such as a PoC(Proof of Concept) with Korean companies.  


Successful KSGC Alumni

In 2022, KSGC attracted 2,653 teams from 122 countries worldwide, recording the highest-ever

competition rate of 52:1. 51 startup teams were selected through screening and auditions for the final 15-week program. German food tech startup Koralo won the coveted ‘2022 K-Startup Grand Challenge’ as the best foreign startup team at the Demo Day. 

“We believe that Korea has excellent technology as well as opportunities. It’s been good for us to build up local manufacturing here and be able to export these products to other Asian countries. It takes work to enter the Korean market. But in the end, if you have the right business partner, if you connect to the Korean ecosystem, and you enlarge that network and add some value to them and also show that you are interested in staying in Korea long term, then people are super excited to work together,” said Sina Albanese, co-founder of Koralo. 

In the past, global startups participating in the KSGC program have had definite success in the Asian market. Since 2016, 360 teams from 168 countries have participated in KSGC, and 167 Korean subsidiaries have been established. Bear Robotics, a Silicon Valley startup founded by ex-googlers, participated in KSGC 2017 and is now revolutionizing self-driving serving robots tailored for Korean cuisine internationally. The startup has attracted over $100 million in investments since 2017, with an $81 million Series B round in 2022. 


Important Dates

Program Schedule Date
Application deadline 5.18.2023 (Thu) 16:00 (Korean Standard Time)
Document evaluation Scheduled 5.19.2023 (Fri) – 5.26.2023 (Fri)
Audition evaluation Scheduled 5.30.2023 (Tue) – 6.2.2023 (Fri)
Final result announcement 6.15.2023 (Thu)
Program participation 7.25.2023 (Tue) – 11.10.2023 (Fri)
Additional participation period (for TOP 20 at 2023 Demo Day) 12.1.2023 – 3.29.2024


 For further information and the application for K-Startup Grand Challenge,

• visit the website – https://www.k-startupgc.org/

• check the Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/kstartupgc)

• visit the LinkedIn page (https://www.linkedin.com/company/kstartupgc) for more information and further updates.