Two years ago, the South Korean government invested $3.8 billion to promote the start-up industry in that country. Since then, the government has invested in a number of financial start-ups in South Korea.
Another initiative in that direction is the K-Startup Grand Challenge to invite start-ups from across the world to South Korea VCs and mentors as partners of the government.
When South Korea is mentioned in a business context, the top names that come to mind are of their home-grown giants in mobile phones and cars. The start-up industry has not been able to have an impact as yet. Agreeing that it is true that the manufacturing industry has had a top recall with consumers across the world, Kyung Hwan Lee, Executive Director of India-Korea SW Cooperation Center said that the country has been working for some time on developing technology with a focus on research and development.
Lee was in India last week with regard to inviting start-ups for the Grand Challenge. He said that the start-up industry in South Korea is of a different genre from other sectors and the government is willing to handhold it. Companies in Korea are now collaborating with start-ups, especially those that are focused on software. Samsung too is collaborating with some Korean start-ups, said Lee.
The core objective of the K-Startup Grand Challenge is to promote the expansion of an open entrepreneurship ecosystem in Asia and to assist in South Korea's evolution into a prominent start-up business hub in the region. The challenge will open gates for the Indian Technology startups – catering to different categories to enter the Korean market and further expand its reach to global customers.
In recent years, a great number of large Korean conglomerates have expressed their interest in collaborating with foreign start-ups. The K-Startup Grand Challenge program offers the opportunity for such start-ups to interact and to work with large conglomerates (Samsung, LG, Hyundai Motors, KT, Kakao, Naver, CJ, SK, POSCO, etc.), said Lee.
With regard to the growth of the start-up ecosystem in India, Lee said that patents and Intellectual Property Rights are a concern in the sector.
To make South Korea an Asian hub for start-ups, Korea’s Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning is inviting start-ups across the world to a K-Startup Grand Challenge. The all-expenses-paid program is the first of its kind in Asia and is sponsored by Korea’s Science Ministry.
The start-ups that have held centre stage in Korea has been those that have focused on beauty and cosmetics, apparel, he said.
Forty start-ups will be selected for the three month acceleration program and will receive $4,100 per month to cover living expenses, along with free round-trip flights to Korea for three team members. They will also get offices and lab space in its $160 million Startup Campus in Pangyo, within walking distance of several major Korean companies that have signed on to provide R&D support.
If a start-up is among the 40 team selected for the challenge’s acceleration program, it will receive $4,100 per month for three months to cover living expenses in Kora and also receive round-trip airfare for up to three team members. For those start-ups who make it to the top 20 start-ups, it will have access to #833,000 in additional prizes. Each of the top 20 start-ups will receive $33,000 if they set up a legal entity in Korea. The top four teams will get grants of between $6,000 and $100,000. Those that do well in this round may also be offered equity investment opportunities from accelerators and local VCs.11`
Applications for this program close on June 14. Applications can be made on: http://www.k-startupc.org