South Korea’s Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP), in partnership with Seoul-based accelerators SparkLabs, DEV Korea, ActnerLab, and Shift, today announced the launch of K-Startup Grand Challenge, an accelerator programme targetting startups from all over the world.

Accepting applications through June 14, TechCrunch reported that the programme aims to make the country’s tech industry more diverse.

The three-month long programme will begin in September, and it will choose 40 startups to be mentored by 15 South Korean tech giants including Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, Kakao, and Naver.

The demo day itself will be in December. Twenty startups will receive US$33,000 in funding from the government, with the top four getting an additional US$6,000 to US$100,000.

The startups will work at government-sponsored Pangyo Global Startup Campus.

Though it accepts companies from all industries, the programme particularly looks for startups that focus on gaming, finance, biotech, software, and information and communication tech.

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According to MSIP director and spokesman Dr. Chang-yong Ahn, this is the first time the government (which has pledged US$2 billion per year since 2013 to the local startup ecosystem) has directly supported foreign startups.

It wants to encourage more companies to set up business there and plans to make K-Startup Grand Challenge an annual program.

“Most innovation is borne from diversity — just look at Silicon Valley,” he said.

“At this stage the startup and business ecosystem in Korea lacks a high level of diversity and the K-Startup Grand Challenge is one step towards creating a more diverse business environment in Korea,” he added.

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