The K-Startup Grand Challenge (KSGC) is a startup accelerator program supported by the South Korean government. The program aims to support talented entrepreneurs and promising startups by bringing them into Korea for a 3-month accelerating program at Pangyo Techno Valley (located south of Seoul). It supports the discovery of excellent global startup teams to start a business in Korea. The K-Startup Challenge is held every year. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the K-Startup Grand Challenge in detail and help you understand how you can participate and benefit from the program.

What is the K-Startup Grand Challenge?

K-startup Grand Challenge

The K-Startup Grand Challenge is an accelerator program that provides global startups with the opportunity to develop their ideas and receive support from the Korean government. The program is open to startups from all over the world and is designed to help entrepreneurs scale their businesses across Asia. That is right, when joining the program in South Korea, startups are not restricted to just the Korean market. In fact, startups are encouraged to grow outside of South Korea and into other Asian markets. The more they grow the more jobs they will create in South Korea. Ultimately that is the goal of this problem.

Why participate in the K-Startup Grand Challenge?

Participating in the K-Startup Grand Challenge can be highly beneficial for global startups. Here are some of the benefits of the program:

  1. Funding: Selected startups receive up to $120,000, which can help them scale their business.
  2. Mentorship: The program provides startups with mentorship from experts in their industry, which can help them develop their businesses and make better decisions.
  3. Networking: Startups get the opportunity to network with other entrepreneurs, investors, and industry experts, which can help them form valuable partnerships.
  4. Access to Korean Market: Startups can use the program to enter the Korean market and gain exposure to Asian customers.
  5. Government Support: The Korean government supports startups throughout the program, which can help them navigate the regulatory environment and other challenges.

How to participate in the K-Startup Grand Challenge?

Participating in the K-Startup Grand Challenge requires applying your business plan, market research, and team details. Here are the steps to participate in the program:

  1. Apply online: Startups can apply for the program through the K-Startup Grand Challenge website.
  2. Screening: After the application deadline, the program organizers will screen the applications and select startups that meet the criteria.
  3. Demo Day: Selected startups will be invited to participate in the Demo Day, where they will present their business ideas to a panel of judges.
  4. Acceleration Program: The selected startups will participate in the acceleration program, which includes mentorship, networking, and funding opportunities.
  5. Showcase Day: The program culminates in the Showcase Day, where startups present their progress and achievements to potential investors and partners.

What are the eligibility criteria?

To be eligible for the K-Startup Grand Challenge, startups must meet the following criteria:

  1. Be a technology-based startup that has not yet established a branch in Korea.
  2. Have a prototype or a product that can be commercialized.
  3. Have a scalable business model with a clear market strategy.
  4. Have a competent and dedicated team.


Q: Can non-Korean startups participate in the K-Startup Grand Challenge?

A: Yes, the program is open to startups from all over the world.

Q: Is the K-Startup Grand Challenge a free program?

A: Yes, selected startups receive funding, mentorship, and other benefits for free.

Q: How long is the acceleration program?

A: The acceleration program lasts for three months.

Q: What happens after the program ends?

A: After the program ends, startups can choose to stay in Korea and continue to develop their business or return to their home country.

Q: Can startups from any industry apply for the K-Startup Grand Challenge?

A: The program is open to technology-based startups from any industry.

Organizers of K-Startup Grand Challenge

The two main organizers of the program are the National IT Industry Promotion Agency (NIPA) and the Ministry of SMEs and Startups. The program averages over 2,600 global startups from over 120 countries. The accelerator program selects the top 55 startups. At the end of the accelerator program, there is a demo day where the top 30 startups pitch for additional financial incentives and support from the Korean government to establish their business in Korea. 

Bigbang Angels 

Bigbang AngelsBigbang Angels is one of the five accelerators supporting the startups in the K-Startup Grand Challenge. It is a cross-border accelerator founded in 2012, focusing on supporting Korean startups to expand into the global markets and to support global startups to expand into the Asia market through Korea. They support startups via investment, mentoring, and growth infrastructure. 

K-Startup Grand Challenge – Previous Startups

Ommo Technologies 

Ommo TechnologiesOmmo Technologies is the creator of a permanent magnet-based precision positioning tracking technology called ORBIT that has a license agreement with a global medical equipment company. It aims to be the most reliable and resilient position-tracking system for the medical market.  They recently raised a new round with $2 million funding from Korean investors. Furthermore, Ommo is looking to collaborate with various fields, from manufacturing process improvement to surgical robots and gaming.     

Regulaxis SAS (France) – Fourth Place Winner ($20,000)

RegulaxisRegulaxis is a Bio Pharmaceutical company that does R&D and licensing of innovative synthetic molecules for use in human therapies. They have a new treatment for OsteoArthritis by regenerating knee cartilage. In addition, the startup has a 20-year research spin-off team from a French state-run research institute with four fully-owned patents. Currently, they are applying for the Korean FDA in 2021.

48Hour Discovery (Canada) 

48Hour Discovery48Hour Discovery is a peptide-based new drug discovery AI platform for the pharmaceutical industry, founded by an incumbent professor in Canada. Recently, they have been using their proprietary technology to rapidly develop peptide-based anti-viral compounds to treat those infected with COVID-19. In addition, they are setting up a JV in Korea with another Korean company.

Fairphonic (Singapore) 

fairphonicSingaporean startup Fairphonic is an AI-based automatic copyright recognition technology that detects the copyright of media content across multiple variations, with various global partnerships across the social media, entertainment, and gaming industry. Their AI audio fingerprinting system can identify the original composition from each recording. Furthermore, royalties are computed in real-time (based on actual music usage). Then payments are made on a monthly basis directly to the artists/creators. In addition, they recently launched their Savanah solution for Dance Creators in Korea.

Fyipe (United States)


Fyipe is a platform that monitors your website, dashboards, and APIs and alerts your team when there is any downtime. Therefore it is a comprehensive Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) and DevOps all in one platform. In addition, the platform offers a Status Page that allows you to be more transparent with your customers to gain trust and increase revenue. Fyipe already has enterprise clients such as Siemens, Hershey’s, BDO, etc.

Movel AI (Singapore)

K-Startup Grand Challenge MovelAIMove AI is an autonomous driving software engineering company that can be installed in indoor logistics robots. They can deliver human-like precision and movements to robots by combining sensor fusion, vision, and machine learning & AI technologies. They have raised investments from investors such as 500 Startups, SparkLabs, SGInnovate, and Enterprise Singapore.

Nanolog Audio (Canada)


Nanolog Audio is a quantum mechanics-based semiconductor technology company, a technology that can be implemented in the audio chips, photosensors, and memory industry. Therefore, their technology uses quantum physics to create bigger and bolder sounds for the best audio experience. 

Quen (United States)

QuenAI startup Quen offers an AI transcription service integrated into various platforms, including Zoom and Microsoft Team. You can even download and export transcripts in a variety of formats. Therefore, your partners and team members can automatically translate the contents of a call. In addition, all recordings of meetings can be stored for up to 18 months with their archival options. Quen now supports the Korean language.  

Resonado (United States)


Resonado is the creator of a patented speaker technology (Flat Core Speaker Technology) solution that enables innovative product designs with enhanced audio performance through its form factor advantages and expanded acoustic spatial coverage. Flat Core Speaker Technology (FCS) is an audio component solution. It can be implemented in products ranging from consumer electronics/vehicles to architectural spaces.

SEEDiA (Poland)


SEEDiA is the creator of an innovative solar furniture solution for smart cities, such as electric scooter charging pods, benches, trash cans, bus shelters, info kiosks, and more, based on an AI remote control platform & data analytics. Furthermore, their mission is to design smart cities with modern and innovative usable solar-powered objects of small architecture. Recently selected as one of the five startups for the “Discover Busan” Program.

SkyHive Technologies (Canada)

SkyHIVESkyHive Technologies is an AI-based re-skilling HR recruitment/career management solution with many global 2000 enterprise clients such as Accenture and Chevron. Therefore, the solution helps you understand the capabilities of your workforce, compare those against industry benchmarks, and identify emerging and future skills. This will result in an agile and evolving workforce plan that adapts to the ever-changing business needs. In addition, they recently raised their Series A round of $8 million.

TheFutures (United Kingdom)

The Futures

TheFutures is a graphic and video design outsourcing platform for global VC/AC (SOSV is their client), startups, and enterprises. How does it work? First, a client uploads their files. Once the files are uploaded, a complete design is created by professional graphic designers. Therefore, there are no bots, no templates, just real-life talented/vetted designers. Some clients they acquired during the program are Kyobo Life and The Invention Lab (Accelerator) in Korea.