Born2Global Centre has teamed up with Innpulsa Colombia and ProColombia, the business growth management unit and the international tourism/foreign direct investment/non-traditional exports branch of the Colombian national government, respectively, to jointly discuss Korea and Colombia’s entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystems.
On August 18, the two global organizations held a webinar to share knowledge of the startup and innovation ecosystems of both countries, establishing strategies for Korean startups to enter the Colombian market.
A total of about 50 participants, including startup-related organizations, startups, and venture capitals from Korea and Colombia have engaged in the session with Born2Global Centre’s Jongkap Kim, the Chief Executive Director, as a panelist on the global startup ecosystem and Sokjin Chang, the Director of International Cooperation, as a presenter on the current status of Korea´s startup ecosystem and the multiple support programs that the Centre is operating to support Korean deep-tech startups’ global expansion.
Alfredo Ramos, the Director of ProColombia Korea, made the opening remarks, followed by Juan Carlos Caiza, the Ambassador of Colombia in South Korea, providing the congratulatory speech. Francisco J. Noguera, the CEO of Innpulsa Colombia, presented on the Colombian startup ecosystem, as well as the startup support programs available at Innpulsa Colombia.
Next was a session by João Leite, the CEO of Advance, to explain the importance of the Korean-Colombian joint partnership, as evidenced through his case study presentation.
Then, a panel discussion ensued, featuring the three powerhouses Mr. Kim, Mr. Caiza, and Mr. Noguera on the implications for a Korean and Colombian startup ecosystem and an optimistic outlook on future collaborative efforts to further strengthen the two countries’ bonds.
By Kim Hyelin and Yoon Sojung
Korea ranks eighth this year in digital competitiveness, up two notches from last year.
The Ministry of Science and ICT on Oct. 3 said Korea this year placed eighth among 63 countries in digital competitiveness as ranked by the Switzerland-based International Institute for Management Development (IMD).
The country has steadily risen on the list over the last few years, going from 19th in 2017 to 14th in 2018 and tenth last year.
The IMD rankings measure a country's capacity and preparedness in 52 detailed criteria under the three factors of knowledge, technology and future readiness.
The U.S. finished No. 1 and Singapore second on this year's list, the same as in last year. Denmark ranked third, followed by Sweden, Hong Kong, Switzerland and the Netherlands. China placed 16th and Japan 27th.
Korea showed overall improvement by earning higher scores in all three factors.
Korea ranked third in future readiness, up a notch from last year, thanks to its top scores in e-participation and internet retailing under the adaptive attitudes section. The category measures a country's readiness in digital transition.
In technology, Korea ranked 12th, up five notches from last year and mainly led by having the world's second-fastest broadband speed. The category measures capacity for digital innovation development.
In the knowledge section that gauges the capacity for understanding, discovering and expanding new technology, Korea ranked 10th, up from 11th from last year, thanks to high scores in expenditures on research and development (R&D) and R&D personnel per capita.
The ministry said in a news release, ''Through cooperation with other government ministries, we will improve weaker indexes such as those on technology development and adaptation, fostering female researchers and investment in the communications sector.''
With the ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit underway, the Smart City Fair took place on Nov. 25 in Busan.
The fair was held under the slogan “Smart Cities, Connecting Korea-ASEAN.” Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport Kim Hyun-mee as well as ministers and vice-ministers from 10 ASEAN member states held a ministerial meeting and toured the smart city exhibition.
During the tour, they stopped by booths of 10 ASEAN smart cities and learned about the present and future of these new living environments.
Reporter : Kim Minji
Editor : Choi Taesoon
By Jung Joo-ri and Kim Hwaya
The government this year will invest KRW 902.9 billion in clean energy research and development (R&D), the Ministry of Trade, industry and Energy said on May 28.
The ministry added that Korea shared its Mission Innovation (MI) implementation status at MI's fourth annual ministerial conference in Vancouver, Canada.
Announced at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris on Nov. 30, 2015, MI is a global initiative of 23 countries including the U.S., the U.K., Japan and China committed to doubling their public and/or government-directed investments in clean energy R&D by 2021.
All MI member nations have pledged to expand such investments from USD 14.9 billion in 2016 to USD 30 billion in 2021, with Korea aiming to go from USD 490 million to USD 980 million over the period.
Deputy Minister for Energy and Resource Joo Young-Joon said at the conference that Seoul was fully implementing its MI commitment. Korea's investment in clean energy R&D this year is KRW 902.9 billion (USD 760 million), up 61.1 percent from 2016.
The ministry also announced efforts toward technological innovation through joint R&D projects with other MI member countries in eight priority sectors like smart grids, biofuel and hydrogen energy.
By Min Yea-Ji and Yoon Sojung
Photos = Kim Sunjoo
Video = Min Yea-Ji
Pangyo-dong, Seongnam | Dec. 26, 2018
Korea.net in 2019 is highlighting startups leading innovative growth in various sectors of the Korean economy. I-Bricks, the fourth company featured in this series, analyzes big data, a major engine propelling innovative growth, and provides a customized curation service based on artificial intelligence (AI).
Tony Stark, the protagonist of the blockbuster superhero movie series "Iron Man," has the perfect personal assistant in Jarvis. The artificial intelligence (AI)-based secretary not only searches for and delivers simple information but also makes jokes that require a perfect understanding of the surrounding context.
In contrast to a few years ago, when such technology was considered something found only in the cinematic realm, an AI personal assistant no longer sounds new or strange.
So when will something like Jarvis appear in the real world?
To find the answer and learn more about such assistants and big data, Korea.net sat down with I-Bricks CEO Chae Jong Hyun. His startup specializes in AI-based langauge processing technology and has developed the brain of a "curating robot," a device that debuted in Korea late last year.
"If we limit the area of the robot's functions such as display curating or guidance in museum facilities, we can upgrade an AI assistant’s capacity," he said.
This is because more specific words and sentences will be used in conversation if the area of dialogue is defined, he added.
CuAi, AI robot curator
Last month, a robot curator made its seemingly unfitting debut at the National Museum of Korea in Seoul.
When a visitor approaches the robot and asks about an item on display, it shows the item's location on screen and guides the person to it.
This is Culture Curating Artificial Intelligence or CuAi, a robot that guides and provides professional docent service backed by a leading AI technology empowering natural language understanding. CuAi can deliver detailed information on display items, facilities and services thanks to knowledge learning and dialogue training in all areas related to the museum.
Chae said, "A knowledge base with more data is needed to enable chatbots to have a close conversation with humans."
"CuAi is a robot that evolves and trains itself by studying its previous conversations with humans, especially questions it failed to answer. After accumulating conversational knowledge, it grows smarter and mimics human dialogue, advancing its capability."
Easing driving, teaching Korean
In the film, Jarvis is portrayed merely as a voice, not a robot, something similar to I-Bricks' next project. The company is developing a connected car technology set for release at year's end in which an AI personal assistant converses with a driver to help driving and boost convenience.
I-Bricks is also working on an assistant that teaches the Korean language. Citing the growing popularity of learning Korean abroad, Chae said, "We will develop a new Korean-language learning app that teaches Korean and provides virtual reality (VR)-based content without the need to go to an educational institute."
I-Bricks is working on this project in collaboration with Hancom, a Korean software developer best known for Hangeul Office (family of office software and services). This project will reflect the influence of the Fourth Industrial Revolution as it requires leading next-generation technologies like AI, big data and VR.
"If a customer experiences innovation through our services and they change his or her life, that is true innovation," he said.
"We can call something 'AI technology' when it's something that provides a service similar to what humans provide and that they consider intelligent," he added. "It's our role to make such technology more human and provide it to customers.”
By Oh Hyun-woo and Kim Minji
Korea has topped for the sixth straight year the Bloomberg Innovative Index as the world's most innovative nation.
Bloomberg News on Jan. 22 said the country maintained the No. 1 spot with an 87.38 score in the 2019 Bloomberg Innovation Index, which ranks innovation by a country's spending as a percentage of GDP on R&D intensity, manufacturing value-added, productivity, high-tech density, tertiary efficiency, researcher concentration and patent activity.
Korea ranked second in R&D intensity and manufacturing value-added, fourth in high-tech density, and seventh in tertiary efficiency and researcher concentration.
"In the Bloomberg Index, Germany almost caught six-time champion South Korea on the strength of added-value from manufacturing and research intensity," the report said.
"Although South Korea extended its winning streak, its lead narrowed in part because of lower scores in patent activity."
The Ministry of Economy and Finance said, "Korea retained such high scores thanks to the joint efforts of the government and corporations to continue expanding R&D investment and pushing forward economic policies for innovation-driven growth, despite harsh economic conditions home and abroad."
The country's R&D expenditures as a percentage of GDP was 4.55 percent, one of the world's highest. In 2017, Korea ranked fifth in R&D spending.
By Jung Joo-ri and Yoon Sojung
Photos = Choi Taesoon
Seoul | Dec. 14, 2018
Despite being largely ignored by most people, an emerging sector is quietly expanding with the advancement of society: waste collection and management.
The rising volume of products and services is fueling the growth of waste in tandem. Despite relatively low interest in waste disposal and management, one startup in Seoul has created business opportunities by using new technologies in the field.
Ecube Labs provides solutions for smart waste management while saving collection costs. In an interview with Korea.net on Dec. 14, 2018, at the company’s office in Seoul's Guro-gu District, CEO Sean Gwon defined his idea of innovation as "something that you can ignore unconsciously."
"Many sectors have benefited from technological development but not the waste industry, which lacks efficiency and requires many improvements," he said.
On why he started this business, Gwon said, "The volume of the global market for waste collection is an estimated KRW 600 billion but the industry isn't competitive. So I deeply thought about what technological improvements were needed."
Smart trash bins using renewable energy
Opened in 2011, Ecube released the next year Clean Cube, a solar-powered trash compactor using wireless technology. Using solar energy batteries, Clean Cube-attached trash bins detect the quantity of waste they collect and can hold up to eight times more trash than non-compacting models.
In 2015, Ecube developed CleanFlex, an ultrasonic fill-level sensor attachable to any trash can that monitors the quantity of contained waste. A trash can using CleanFlex monitors waste quantity through ultrasonic waves and detects fire hazards.
CleanFlex collects waste data and sends them wirelessly to the CCN. Users can remotely check the volume of collected waste using the internet, resulting in lower cost thanks to using the shortest routes to collect waste and fewer visits to garbage containers.
IoT boosts waste management efficiency
In 2012, Ecube conducted a pilot project in which 70 CleanCube trash compactors were installed at four universities in Seoul -- Seoul National, Korea, Yonsei and Dongguk. The company has since installed 3,000 CleanCube trash compactors and CleanFlex in Seoul and throughout Korea as well as overseas including Washington, D.C., Shanghai, China, Birmingham, U.K., and Santiago, Chile.
Ecube’s solar-powered trash compactors can be also found in public places abroad such as Hermosa Beach in Southern California as well as Dublin Airport in Ireland. In addition to regional government bodies and trash collection companies, private entities like the Dublin Airport Authority of Ireland have sought the company’s waste management solutions to reduce collection costs.
On his company's most memorable overseas project, Gwon selected the so-called Melbourne Project in Australia's second-largest city. Ecube changed all trash cans downtown with 500 of its solar-powered waste compactors, raising waste collection efficiency up to 70 percent, he said.
Demand for Ecube's method of waste management using wireless communication is rising among smart city projects worldwide. For example, the company in January last year won a bid in Baltimore, Maryland, to install 4,500 trash cans by 2020.
Thanks to its extensive and varied experience, Ecube is pursuing a national project in Korea to build smart cities, a sector promoted by the government to lead innovative growth in the country.
Appointed to the smart city special committee in November 2017, Gwon has provided consultations to the provincial cities of Sejong and Busan on building smart cities equipped with cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles.
On his company's ultimate goal, he said, "We wish for all waste collection firms in the world to use our solutions."
"Almost all computers use the Windows operating system, right? Likewise, we hope that our products can become the Windows of waste management that all waste management companies use."
By Jung Joori and Lee Hana
Seoul | Dec. 28, 2018
Imagine that a patient with a persistent cough goes to see a doctor. After being briefed on the symptoms, the doctor will likely take a chest X-ray of the patient. Based on this radiograph, the doctor will look for abnormalities and perform a CT scan if something serious is detected.
Now imagine a different scenario in which an artificial intelligence (AI) device scans the same chest X-ray and finds abnormalities invisible to the human eye. This means a problem can be diagnosed early on and raise the likelihood of a full recovery.
Lunit, a Korean company specializing in AI-powered medical image analysis software, is banking on this very technology. Its medical solutions are based on deep learning algorithms that help doctors more accurately diagnose patients by detecting abnormalities in radiographs.
AI is considered a major growth engine of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, though advances in this field have fueled fear as well as anticipation. Lunit, however, stresses that its vision for its products shines a positive light on AI’s future given that the company’s goal is enhancing human capabilities rather than replacing people.
Korea.net spoke to Lunit CEO Brandon B. Suh on Dec. 28 at his company’s headquarters in Seoul’s Yeoksam-gu District to find about more about this cutting-edge technology.
"Innovation is the marriage of novelty and utility. Originality is important but we cannot call it innovation unless it has a useful function," he said. "I decided to apply our AI software to medicine because a one-percent increase in accuracy in this sector can save more lives than in any other field."
AI algorithm development backed by vast medical data
Founded in 2013, Lunit features among its products the Lunit INSIGHT for Chest Radiography, a deep learning software that diagnoses chest X-rays, and the Lunit INSIGHT for Mammography, a software for breast diagnosis and screening. Both software solutions show potential abnormalities with a heat map and calculate an abnormality score as a percentage, allowing doctors to make a final diagnosis based on these results.
"Chest radiography and mammography are among the most commonly used diagnostic procedures, performed over a trillion times annually in hospitals around the world. Unlike CT scans and MRIs, however, both of these methods compress 3-D images into 2-D ones, which affects diagnostic accuracy. This is what motivated us to develop our products," said Suh.
Lunit collects its data from 18 medical institutions including Seoul National University Hospital, Asan Medical Center, the University of California’s San Francisco Medical Center and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. This is because diagnostic accuracy depends heavily on deep learning of a vast amount of data. In this respect, Korea's high level of medical accessibility has proven considerably useful.
"Compared to the U.S. or China, medical costs in Korea are relatively low, which means diagnostic procedures are run more often and produce more data. Because most critically ill patients tend to be concentrated in Seoul's major hospitals, data collection is easy for us," Suh said.
Globally acclaimed AI software
Lunit's deep learning software has won top prizes at international competitions. In 2017, it earned the grand prize at the CAMELYON Grand Challenge, a pathology competition whose goal is to evaluate new and existing algorithms for automated detection and classification of breast cancer metastases in whole-slide images of node sections.
The same year, Lunit was the only Korean company to receive a mention on CB Insight's list of the world’s 100 most promising companies in private intelligence.
The addition of globally renowned diagnostic radiologists to the company’s panel of experts has also helped raise Lunit’s brand. The list of consultants includes Eliot Siegel of the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine, a leading authority on digital medical imaging. Another is Khan Siddiqui of Johns Hopkins University, who is chief technology and marketing officer of Higi, a medical technology company that creates health station kiosks to allow patients to measure, track and act on their health statistics.
Suh said Lunit can make great medical strides using AI technology, adding, "Our long-term goal is to help doctors diagnose illnesses undetectable by the human eye and ultimately help as many patients as we can in the process."
By Jung Joo-ri and Yoon Sojung
President Moon Jae-in on Jan. 10 announced the policy direction of his administration on employment, labor issues and regulatory innovation in a Q&A session that was part of his New Year’s news conference at Cheong Wa Dae.
Reflecting on his first 20 months in office, the chief executive said the lackluster employment index was the biggest regret of his term, saying, "How to solve the issue is the most pressing task of my administration."
He said the chronically poor performance of manufacturing resulted in the sluggish employment market.
Proposing innovation as the key to solving the issue, he said, "Innovation in the manufacturing sector such as applying smart technologies will heighten the industry’s competitiveness."
President Moon added that the government will strive to support venture startups and entrepreneurs to produce new growth momentum.
On labor policy, he said, "Improving the lives of employees is crucial for reducing and removing economic inequality."
"My administration has put a lot of effort toward raising employee wages, shortening work hours and transforming irregular workers into regular ones."
Switching to regulatory innovation, President Moon urged all sides to have an open heart.
"In the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, many changes are taking place in the economy and society but it seems some people are sticking to outdated values," he said.
"I hope all of us can have a more open heart to meet the changes of the times and show a more flexible mindset to have conversations with others."
President Moon also announced more government support to foster startups, suggesting that junior and senior workers work together to take advantage of new ideas from younger staff and the experience of veteran employees simultaneously.
A startup Looxid Labs received the Best of Innovation Awards following last year's honoree Google
Looxid Labs, a tech startup developing a user emotion recognition system optimized for Virtual Reality (VR), announced that LooxidVR -- a mobile based VR headset for eye tracking and EEG recording -- has earned a CES 2018 Best of Innovation Awards in Virtual Reality.
Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the world's largest trade show annually held by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) in Las Vegas in early January. A CES Best of Innovation Awards is a prestigious award given only to the first-class companies that show the best innovation in each sector among 28 categories in the light of its design, technology and customer value. For VR sector, Looxid Labs' LooxidVR made an outstanding achievement of winning the 2018 Best of Innovation Awards, following a CES 2016 Innovation Awards honoree Samsung's Gear VR and a CES 2017 Best of Innovation Honoree Google's Tilt Brush, and standing shoulder to shoulder with other global innovative companies.
LooxidVR is a mobile based VR headset, analogous to Samsung's Gear VR and Google's Daydream View, embedded with EEG sensors and eye tracking cameras and thus can keep track of a user's brain activity, eye movement, and pupil dilation. In particular, LooxidVR allows time-synchronized acquisition of eye and brain data concurrent with VR contents and provides an expandable API, which can be widely applicable in various VR industries that require better understanding of users' emotional status such as stress level, preference, and engagement.
Looxid Labs will participate in 'CES Unveiled Las Vegas' at Mandalay Bay on January 7thprior to CES 2018 and set up a booth where visitors can experience LooxidVR during the four days of the actual event from January 9th-12th. Above all, booth visitors can have a first-hand experience of monitoring their eye and brain activity within an immersive VR and explore how their physiological data can be used to open up new possibilities in VR-based user experience (UX) or market research.
"It is really encouraging to see our technology and potential recognized globally with the Best of Innovation Awards at CES 2018, where the most influential and ingenious consumer technologies are showcased," said Yongwook Chae, the CEO of Looxid Labs. "Preorder sales of our award-winning product, the LooxidVR, will be kicked off on February 1st, 2018. I hope you stay tuned for our future development including comprehensive VR user analytics solution based on eye and brain interface," he added.
During CES 2018, visitors can find Looxid Labs at Booth #52907 at 'Eureka Park' where various startups showcase their ingenious ideas and innovation. CES 2018 Best of Innovation Honoree products are featured on CES.tech/Innovation. Visit www.looxidlabs.com for more information.