The Korean startup Ecosystem has been lopsided for a very long time. Until 2012-2013, the startup scene in Korea remained homogeneous. Foreign entrepreneurs have received many calls to raise the number of foreign startups in Korea. The Korean government has responded by setting up many programs that support foreign startups in Korea. Korea is now becoming a hotbed for startups. Not just startups but also global businesses. This is mainly due to the central government’s support and its supporting agencies. There is a solid foreign entrepreneur community in Korea, and they are helping to improve the working culture in Korea.

Creative Economy Drive

The Korean government has been trumpeting the buzzword ‘Creative Economy’ since 2015. This was a move by the Korean government to expand job creation and innovation and stimulate economic growth. With the advent of the 4th Industrial revolution, Korea is investing heavily in technological infrastructure and logistics. Furthermore, they are creating a conducive environment for startups to thrive. Since then, there’s been a rise in startup events, startup accelerators/incubators, angel investors, coworking spaces, and venture capitalism.

Most of all, there’s been an unparalleled financial injection into startup development. As a result, the Korean government is inviting foreign startups to come and start their entrepreneurship journeys in Korea. Foreign startups worldwide are now in Korea, helping to grow the Korean startup ecosystem. As more Korean startups get exposure to foreign entrepreneurs, their potential to go global becomes a lot easier.

Furthermore, Seoul has become a prominent destination for attracting independent foreign travelers along with foreign startup entrepreneurs. Therefore it is essential to outline programs that support foreign startups in Korea. In addition, give directions to prospective entrepreneurs.

Here is a List of Programs For Foreign Startups in Korea


This is unarguably your first foot to launching a startup business in Korea. OASIS (Overall Assistance for Start-up Immigration System) is a visa point system for foreigners who want to establish a technology-based startup in Korea. The program even offers seminars on setting up your business in Korea and filing your taxes in Korea.

Required classes are the following:

  • Intellectual property
  • Patent
  • Business Laws
  • Korean Culture
  • Society

Completion of the necessary required and elective course will earn you points. These points will qualify you to obtain the D-8-4 Startup Visa. Every legal foreigner (tourists, students, teachers) is eligible for this visa. Promulgated in 2015, this program has continued to attract many foreigners with brilliant ideas to stay in Korea. Applicants must:

  • have a bachelor’s degree or above
  • obtain 80 points or more in the IP education and corporate registration

It takes quite some time to complete, but it is worth it. You can find updated information about the class schedule programs on the OASIS VISA Website.



The K-Startup Grand Challenge is Korea’s first global accelerator program. It invites foreign startups to Korea for a four-month acceleration program at Pangyo Techno Valley that includes funding and office space. Established in 2016, the program received over 1500 applications from 118 countries. Due to COVID-19, the program had to take place online. However, for 2022, they are fully open. Through the program, startups are paired with reputable tech companies and accelerators to help with mentoring and business training.

Korea invites a total of 60 teams. Then the top 30 will go through intensive acceleration and incubation to battle it out the K-Startup Grand Challenge Demo Day in December. A cash prize of $320,000 will be given to the top 10 winners.

The applications for the 2022 batch are open, and you can find more information on the K-Startup Grand Challenge to help you prepare for the next intake. The Ministry of SMEs and Startups, the National IT Industry Promotion Agency, and other subsidiary supporting organizations sponsor this program.

“We are living in times where setting up a business is more about where you start, rather than who runs the business. Korea was the first in the world to commercialize 5G telecommunication. Against this backdrop, Korea is well matched to be a new land of opportunity for global startups as Asia’s tech hub, equipped with advanced infrastructure and technology,” said Park Young-sun from the Startup Ministry.


The Small and Medium Business Administration (SMBA), a Korean Government Agency has been running this program since 2012. It aims to find and support up to 13 foreign (prep) start-up entrepreneurs that have excellent business items.  They provide them with a commercialization fund, office, mentoring, start-up education, and various supporting program. The support also includes a Startup Visa. Visit https://www.k-startup.go.kr/main.do for more information. (Site is in Korean)

Look out for Applications Open for 2022

Applications for the K-Startup Grand Challenge 2022 will look for promising and determined entrepreneurs in Asia. The accelerator program will select the top 60 teams. They will stay in Korea for their 3.5-month accelerator in Pangyo. Furthermore, after the program is over, the Korean government will select 30 startups for their Demo Day. Startups will get additional financial incentives, and if they establish their business in Korea, they will get additional support from the Korean government. The top startups will get grants and be offered equity investment opportunities from accelerators and local VCs. In addition, they will get free office space and opportunities for corporate sponsorship and support.

Application Deadline: June 2022


tips koreaTIPS is one of the major government-backed Startup programs for Korean-owned and Foreign startups in Korea. It ensures the growth and success of all the startups in Korea that pass through the program. They support these startups to enter the global marketplace. TIPS town, the hub located in Yeoksam, Seoul nurtures promising tech startups with office space, investor matching, mentoring, R&D, and many more other support. Take your startup to TIP by checking them out here: http://www.jointips.or.kr/global/. Applications are open year-round.


Born 2 GlobalBorn2Global, as the name suggests, has its main focus on helping potential startups go global. The “K-Global Startup Hub” helps over 100 startups every year to enter new global markets. Born2Global is a Korean government agency under the Ministry of Science ICT and Future Planning (MSIP). They provide support in terms of education, PR, marketing, patent, incubation office space, demo days, and more. If your startup operation is in the target areas of “Healthcare, Mobility, Energy, Agritech, Safety/Security,” then visit Born2Global for more updates.

SEOUL GLOBAL CENTER (Incubation and Big Think Demo Day)

Seoul Global Center

Seoul Global Center is a full-government-run support center that assists foreign residents in Seoul. The center is also an incubation service for early-stage and most promising foreign startups by providing free office space in the business centers at Jongno and Gangnam. Furthermore, selected startup teams spend 6-months in the program. In addition, the program offers coaching, 1:1 mentoring, and special lectures.

Furthermore, they host the “Big Think Demo Day” for foreign startups in Korea with technology-based business ideas.

Making Korea Great for Foreign Startups

These are just a few programs the Korean government has to offer for foreign startups. Foreign startups in Korea will play a role in Korea’s recovery from covid by providing jobs. However, the ultimate aim of bringing foreign companies into Korea is to make Korea a top business hub in Asia as well as improve the global competitiveness of Korean companies. South Korea is already a tech-savvy country, which makes it easy for global companies to develop and test their innovative technologies. In addition, Korea has the fastest mobile download speeds in the world. This means that government and company officials in Korea have a very high level of comprehension of emerging technology such as Blockchain, AI, big data, and IoT.

The Korean government will look to create more opportunities to integrate large Korean companies and foreign startups. This will allow for collaboration opportunities and possible investment opportunities. We will continue to be on the lookout for government programs that support foreign startups so stay tuned.


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