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  • 3 May 2019 14:48

Asia’s leading startup incubation program opens for 2019, now directly targeting Australian innovators

● Startups participating in the challenge will get rare opportunity to work with some of the world’s top tech companies such as Samsung, LG and Hyundai

South Korea’s National IT Industry Promotion Agency (“NIPA”) has announced its call for applications for the 2019 edition of the K-Startup Grand Challenge (“KSGC or KSGC 2019”). The KSGC, first launched in 2016, is a South Korean government-backed project jointly organised by its Ministry of SMEs and Startups, and its National IT Industry Promotion Agency. The awards are aimed at promoting the expansion of an open entrepreneurship ecosystem in Asia.

For the first time, the awards are reaching out directly to Australian entrepreneurs and innovators, inviting local startups to apply. Successful candidates will have the opportunity to develop their ideas in state-of-the-art facilities and access funding during the ten-week program in Seoul’s Pangyo Techno Valley.

From today until the 14th of June, interested startups and entrepreneurs-in-the-making who meet the following criteria can submit their applications at 1. Applicant is part of a startup that is less than 7 years old, or a pre-entrepreneur whose representative holds a foreign nationality or is an overseas Korean (foreign compatriot). 2. Applicant is part of a startup with a clear objective to expand into Asia by using the Korean market as a stepping stone.   Selections for the award will largely be based on the level of creativity in each startup’s concepts and technologies, and 40 startups chosen from across the regional auditions will be invited to South Korea for a 3-and-a-half-month program from 15 Aug to 30 Nov 2019.

The top 40 startups will also be fast tracked through a visa acquisition program called OASIS, which is aimed at giving entrepreneurs a head start for their business in South Korea. Access to administrative support, translation and interpretation will also be made available to ensure participating startups can work effectively while in South Korea.

The program will culminate in a Demo Day in December, where startups will get a chance to present their ideas to the country’s most important investors, business angels and venture capitalists.

The top 20 teams after the Demo Day will also be invited to take part in a settlement program, and be awarded additional prizes, with the winner of the challenge also awarded a US$100,000 grant in addition to receiving funding and living expenses. South Korea is recognised as one of the world’s most-connected countries and an early adopters’ market. The startups which successfully get into the program will be given a chance to network with famous world-class accelerators, test their solutions in the market and use this opportunity to launch their business into neighbouring markets such as China, Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan.

With globally renowned South Korean companies like Samsung, LG, Hyundai, Naver and Lotte amongst the corporates already confirmed to lend their support to the program, startups will have access to an international network of globally recognised corporate mentors, fellow founders, and a wide variety of investors who are experts in specific key areas . The startups, co-located in the Startup Campus of Seoul’s Pangyo Techno Valley, will also have access to state-of-the-art R&D labs, regular training in the form of information sessions and coaching on South Korean and Asian business culture, as well as specific business topics (e.g. patents, accounting regulations, tax laws, etc.). Pitching lessons and one-on-one mentoring will also be provided.

“The K-Startup Grand is part of our strategy to discover and support the next generation of technology innovations. Our experience and resources will help to unlock the potential of emerging entrepreneurs, and assisting the startups in their personal and professional development will directly contribute to helping them reach their next stage of growth.

We look forward to another exciting breakthrough year for the tech startups from around the world, and how this will be able to benefit Asia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and overall innovation blueprint.” said Ms Jun Byong Nam, Regional Director, Korea IT Cooperation Center, Singapore.

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