The K-Startup Grand Challenge (KSGC) 2023 was a huge success! It marked another chapter in its journey of fostering global innovation. Founded in 2016 by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups of the Republic of Korea, this groundbreaking program has become a beacon for startups worldwide seeking to establish and expand their ventures in South Korea. This year saw 49 global startup teams participate in the business acceleration program at Pangyo Startup Campus. Startups focused on the top trending industries such as AI, e-commerce, and green technology. They all received support and mentorship from South Korean companies. At the awards ceremony, the top 20 startups were rewarded with additional follow-up support to run their business in Korea. 

Global Startups Participating in the K-Startup Grand Challenge 2023

The K-Startup Grand Challenge 2023 saw 1,924 applications from 108 countries. KSGC is South Korea’s largest accelerator program and the best accelerator program for helping global startups enter the South Korean market and expand in Asia. The program was a 15-week, all-expenses-paid residency startup accelerator program that took place from July 25th to November 10th. The program was organized by the National IT Industry Promotion Agency and overseen by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups. Their goal was to attract and incorporate promising foreign startups into the dynamic Korean business ecosystem. The program helps startups raise venture capital, and gain access to the South Korean market for business, and networking and promotion opportunities.

Winners of the K-Startup Grand Challenge 2023

KSGC 2023 aimed to attract, incorporate, and expand promising global startups in South Korea. Participants of the KSGC program received an initial settlement fund of around $10,000. After pitching their businesses at the Demo day, the top 20 startups were granted additional support of around $10,000 to use for marketing costs, office space, and personnel expenses during the follow-up program. While many of the startups will get support in launching their business in South Korea, it is also a great opportunity to expand into the Asian market in the future. The top 5 winners of the K-Startup Grand Challenge got additional financial support and will be establishing their businesses in South Korea. Here are the winners below. 

First Place: MarinaChain from Singapore

MarinaChain is a Singapore-based startup focusing on maritime decarbonization. They provide solutions for regulating shipping carbon emissions by providing Web2 and Web3-based solutions, so shipping companies with difficulties calculating carbon emissions can easily prepare for carbon regulation. They streamline the emissions reporting process. With their vessel emissions management software, MarinaNet, and their carbon services, they enable maritime stakeholders to meet regulatory requirements and prove their commitment to sustainability.

Second Place: Luckmon from the United States

Luckmon is a gaming loyalty platform that rewards players for their dedication and commitment to their favorite mobile games. Their aim is for gamers to entertain themselves while earning rewards. In addition, their goal is to create a fun and engaging way for gamers to earn rewards while playing games on any platform, anywhere. They have their own apps, including Luckmon.

Third Place: ANIWARE Company Limited from Hong Kong

ANIWARE is the creator of CardioBird, a one-stop service platform for cardiac assessment for pets. They plan to revolutionize animal healthcare with artificial intelligence and advanced data analytics. Therefore, they continue to develop innovative AI and data products that break the boundaries and possibilities of the veterinary industry. They have updated CardioBird to CardioBird X which is now an ECG solution powered by Next-Gen AI. ANIWARE has clinically validated and award-winning AI supported by 240,000+ dataset

Fourth Place: Relevant from the United States

Relevant is an IT & software tech, providing the application “Climb” for entrepreneurs to help them reach their goals. It is the ultimate app for global entrepreneurs ready to conquer new markets. The app is designed for entrepreneurs who believe in learning through action which can help them master the strategy, English, and culture required to thrive in the US market. Some of its features include:

  • Customized OKRs and Milestones
  • Comprehensive Strategy Guides and Playbooks
  • Hands-on Assignments with Daily Feedback from Expert Mentors
  • A Vibrant Global Community of Like-Minded Peers
  • Accessible to Entrepreneurs Worldwide
  • Long-term Support throughout Your Entrepreneurial Journey

The courses are highly interactive, featuring a series of insights and STEPs (Short Targeted Everyday Practice) for tangible results. Users can join a supportive group of fellow professionals to complete their Climb through collaboration and friendly competition.

Fifth Place: Citationsy from Sweden

Citationsy aims to make referencing and research easier for students and academics from all around the world. They are continuously developing a business based on reference collection and bibliography creation tools. The online referencing tool will automate the citation, reference list, and bibliography in over 9,200 referencing styles including APA, Chicago, DIN, MLA, and Harvard. The tool is currently available as a mobile app, which includes a barcode scanner for on-the-go book referencing, as well as a browser extension (Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari) that enables one-click website citations.

The Ministry of SMEs and Startups

The founder of KSGC is the Ministry of SMEs and Startups. They continue to plan on improving the overall KGSC infrastructure, including the formation of a dedicated agency to support foreign startups in Korea. The agency will help startups with employment visa applications and Korean administrative tasks. In addition, they will play a key role in helping foreign startups network with investors in Korea as well as well-established Korean companies. The ultimate goal will be to foster global collaboration, innovation, and the success stories of global startups that have found a home and support in the South Korean market.