South Korean artificial intelligence (AI) developer VUNO Inc. joined the first batch of innovative medical device companies certified by the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) on Dec. 1, being categorized as an innovative takeoff-type business.


As the soaring exports of South Korean COVID-19 test kits led to a growing interest in the medical device industry, the MOHW launched a project to pick out a group of innovative medical device companies which have the potential to lead the medical device industry based on technological innovative capability, industry-specific specialty and expertise. The top 30 companies were selected by the ministry among a total of 102 applicants, highly acknowledged for their competence in medical device research & development and global competitiveness.


Widely renowned as a pioneering startup for its unprecedented success in making deep learning available on the South Korean medical IT industry, VUNO wrote a new chapter of its history by rolling out the nation's first medical AI solution VUNO Med®-BoneAge™ in 2018. VUNO enables comprehensive data analysis, including medical imaging including X-ray, CT, MRI, and fundus images, biosignal, pathology images and speech, and uses its extensive experience in multi-modal analyses & technologies, Putting work efficiency and accuracy in clinical medicine first and foremost, VUNO is always enthusiastic about developing and putting various medical AI software programs to clinical use. It has been graining great traction at home and abroad with more than 200 active users of hospitals and is ready to deploy the CE marked products to international business partners and clients across different markets.


In July, VUNO Med®-Fundus AI™ set a remarkable milestone by becoming the first innovative medical device in South Korea. It analyzes retinal fundus images to detect 12 abnormal lesions and classifies them for diagnosis. The 12 findings detected by the device are an all–encompassing set of medical information that is crucial to diagnosing a wide range of retinal diseases including diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration and glaucoma.


Furthermore, Med®-DeepCARS™ also designated as an innovative medical device. It is the first bio-signal-based AI medical device to receive a regulatory green light from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) on conducting clinical trials. The software predicts the risk of cardiac arrest occurring within the next 24 hours by doing an analysis of vital signs including pulse, respiratory rate, blood pressure and body temperature.


Image deciphering technology and a medical engineering Ph.D. join forces 


 When JLK was first founded by CEO Kim Won-tae in 2014, the company specialized in display testing equipment that combined simple AI technologies and image deciphering technologies.

In order to expand the company’s business areas, an AI team was created in 2015, and the company began working in earnest to develop medical AI solutions. 


Around this same time, several key people joined JLK, including co-CEO and CTO Kim Dong-min, who has a Ph.D. in engineering from the University of Tokyo. Co-CEO Kim, who is responsible for MRI-related research, has extensive experience working with MRI-based brain data.

Applying deep learning to medical video deciphering


JLK has been commercializing its assets and producing business outcomes faster than any other medical AI firm in Korea. These business outcomes are being achieved by increasingly applying video processing, deep learning, and machine-learned technologies to the existing fields of medical video analysis and industrial X-ray security solutions. JLK’s portable medical devices are applied with technologies that make them as small and lightweight as possible, meaning that the results of AI-based medical video analysis can be viewed anytime, anywhere. The company is currently making headway in various international markets, including those in India, Laos, Myanmar, Kuwait, and China.


The world’s largest number of AI medical analysis solutions 


JLK was the first company in Korea to develop a total analysis solution for strokes (JBS-01K). Today, the company holds the world’ s largest number of AI medical analysis solutions, boasting 37 solutions that can be used to analyze 14 different body parts. The company’s all-in-one platform, AIHuB, is associated with 85 patents and is a modularized version of traditional diagnostic algorithms.

A JLK spokesperson said, “The AI source technologies and algorithms realized through AIHuB are what set our technologies a cut above the rest.” 


Proven global competitiveness as the winning bid for the CHAI tuberculosis screening project in Laos


 JLK first gained recognition in the global medical AI market through its participation in an open bid conducted by the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) in late 2019 for a tuberculosis screening project in Laos. JLK won first place out of all the project bidders and was selected for the CHAI project (CHAI is a program associated with the Clinton Foundation, a non-governmental health organization founded by former US President Bill Clinton to help citizens of developing countries).

 JLK is also currently collaborating with Intel on a medical AI device that blends worksites using cutting-edge and remote technologies. A JLK spokesperson commented that the company has high expectations for the collaboration: “We hope to create a synergetic effect between Intel’s vision for computers, its AI solution development tool, OpenVINO, and JLK’s medical AI algorithm.”


Born2Global Centre, a stepping stone for expanding into international markets 

 As an active participant of the Born2Global Centre program since 2017, JLK has benefitted from the Center’s services and largely attributes its successful expansion overseas to the center’s specialized consultation services. CEO Kim Won-tae explained, “Through the Born2Global Centre we were able to create a US subsidiary, which is essential for branching out into more countries.”JLK also received legal consultations from Born2Global Centre on issues related to establishing an overseas subsidiary as well as patents.

From a medical AI company to a comprehensive AI company 


JLK is currently working on obtaining certifications in Korea and other countries for its AI-based medical solutions. In the future, the company will continue to strengthen its technological prowess and business value as a means of dominating medical AI markets at home and overseas. Its goal is to become a world-class company, based on its unrivaled products, and to lead the digital transformation of the healthcare industry by building global cooperative networks.

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