One of Asia-pacific-region’s (APAC) top tech accelerator programs, K-Startup Grand Challenge (KSGC), is returning for its 8th year with a focus on international startups. 

Australia startups have enjoyed great success at KSGC, with two featuring in the top 10 in 2022.

Applications for 2023 are now open and close on May 18.

KSGC was launched by the  National IT Industry Promotion Agency (NIPA) in 2016 and has been connecting budding startups to South Korea, with the program backed by the South Korean government.

A recent report put South Korea’s early-stage startup funding between 2019 to 2021 at US$2.3 billion compared to US$687 million for the global average.

Korea is Australia’s third-largest export market and fourth-largest two-way trading partner.

The level of investment between the two countries has grown massively over the past decade – from A$600 million in 2003 to A$49 billion in 2018.

Last year’s KSGC received more than 2,600 applications from 122 countries, and since its launch the program has helped 167 startups set up bases in Korea.

Haymarket HQ CEO Duco Van Breemen said that many Western startups tend to overlook the potential of South Korea as a lucrative and sizeable market, despite its wealth.

“The K Startup Grand Challenge offers a valuable chance for startups seeking to accelerate their entry into South Korea by leveraging the program’s resources, network, and expertise,” he said.

KSGC is offering a 3.5-month residency program, from July to November, to 60 startups around the world that are less than seven years old.

Each startup’s representative must be of foreign nationality and express a clear interest in expanding into the Korean and East Asian markets. The top 5 startups will get a cash prize, while the winner gets US$120,000.

The program, to be held in Pangyo Techno Valley, will provide participants with free office and project spaces, as well as cover their living expenses. Startups will receive support from mentors, consultants, and business development teams to aid in localisation efforts and achieve their full potential.

Apply for KSGC here.