“Most innovation is born from diversity – just look at the Silicon Valley”, – this is what Dr. Chang-young Ahn, a director at Korea’s Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning says about global startup cooperation. Recently, the Korean government has launched an amazing acceleration program K-Startup Grind Challenge, designed to boost your project and introduce your company to the leading Asian ecosystem.
The K-Startup Grand Challenge is an all-expense paid 3-month acceleration program that invites 40 lucky startups from abroad to the newly created startup campus in Pangyo, which is just 14 minutes away from Gangnam, Seoul. The area is a so-called Korean Silicon Valley, housing R&D labs of numerous Korean tech companies, most of which will participate in the program on the mentorship side. On top of that, four of Seoul’s leading accelerators – SparkLabs, DEV Korea, Shift and ActnerLab – will guide the K-Startup acceleration program, under which they will also connect startups with local mentors.
So what startups will get from the K-Startup Grand Challenge:
- Flights & living expenses for 3 months in Korea for up to three team members
- Mentorship from four of Seoul’s top accelerators
- Connections to Korea’s top companies like Samsung, KakaoTalk, LG Electronics, Hyundai, etc.
- Opportunity to receive additional grants of up to USD $130K to help you establish in Korea (will be awarded on the demo day at the end of the program)
- Office space and R&D facilities.
The application process is on! Hurry up and submit your application by June 14th! The K-Startup Grand Challenge itself begins in September and will last till the end of November 2016.
The program organizers are initially interested in startups dealing with gaming, finance, biotech, software and ICT. But even if your company does not fall into any of these categories, they will be happy to check your application from other industries, as long as the project represents a high growth potential.
The K-Startup acceleration program is funded by Korean government and several private companies that are ready to provide $2 billion in order to bring Korea’s economy to the new level thanks to the powerful impact of diverse tech entrepreneurship.
Last year these attempts already proved to be working well, when Wideo (an animated video platform) expanded to Korea. The guys were lucky to get 2 grants from Korean government and received a free office. Added by the high level of local IT expertise, openness to online transactions and the overall quality of Korean ICT infrastructure, this made Wideo expansion to Asia unbelievably easy and successful.
Ten years ago, launching a startup in South Korea may have sounded nonsense to most people from the western world, and for some it still does. At that time Korea was developing extremely fast but was still far away from the world tech leader. Today Korea is a definite tech champion, also proud of its advanced manufacturing and innovative culture. Besides, Seoul is now one of the top Asian startup hubs. According to Nathan Millard (G3 Partners), there are several reasons why you might want to move your startup to Korea:
- This is a safe, highly developed country, being stable and exciting at the same time.
- High-quality education, especially in STEM fields gave a perfect start to numerous specialists now working in Korean unicorn companies such as Kakao, Coupang and Yello Mobile.
- Fact: Koreans are early adapters, who can afford to buy all the latest tech innovations and they love it.
- Extremely high Internet speeds: 4G LTE is available in all parts of the country, even the deepest subway tunnels, plus 5G is soon to get fully introduced.
- Starting a business in Korea is pretty challenging, but locals are happy to work with foreigners and will be glad to help.
According to Alex Gershon, Business Development Manager at file sharing startup Send Anywhere, being in close proximity to Asian ecosystem is definitely a win, since it allows to catch the latest tech trends way faster than in the west.
Of course, leaving Europe may be tricky for some of you. But think of the numerous opportunities that might open in front of your startup in Asia!
Do not forget: the deadline for the K-Startup Grand challenge is on June 14th.
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