5 April, 2019 - Hanoi - Korea’s startup sector has shown strong growth over the past several years, with an increasing number of entrepreneurs using this space to solve various global issues. In spite of the many challenges startups face, ranging from resources and regulations to skills development and networks, two Korean startup companies - Mune and Linecare - have begun changing the healthcare landscape both domestically and internationally, and were selected to compete against 36 other young Asia-Pacific entrepreneur teams at Youth Co: Lab Summit 2019, a social entrepreneurship challenge co-hosted by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Citi Foundation in Hanoi, Vietnam from April 2-5. The nominated teams have one thing in common – they offer solutions to address at least one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which tackle global problems through set targets in innovative ways.
Of the two National Champions, Mune emerged as the proud winner of the Regional Scalability Award on Friday evening in recognition of its potential for wide-reaching social impact across the region and beyond.
MUNE, which takes its name from the word immune, focuses on improving the welfare of not just patients, but also nurses and healthcare workers. Their main product, ANDY (Automatic Needle DestroYer), separates and discards needles in an automatic one-step process to prevent secondary infections and reuse of syringe needles, as well as ensure safe disposal. ANDY’s portable and compact design is already being implemented in select hospitals in Korea, and has also made its name known overseas. In fact, MUNE was chosen as one of the top 100 companies at a recent San Francisco start-up competition, and is currently developing contextualized designs for international markets, such as Vietnam, Mongolia, and the Philippines. The startup was founded in 2016 by two Yonsei University students who, while researching social challenges for a design class, learned that majority of medical staff worldwide, and specifically hospital nurses, have experienced at least one needle-stick injury. The World Health Organization reported in 2003 that 37.6%, 39%, and 4.4% of healthcare workers were infected with Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV/AIDS respectively. “Our goal is to improve the welfare of healthcare providers that address both safety and practicality,” said Jacob Kwangbin Oh, co-founder and COO of MUNE. “We do not aspire to change everything in the hospital, but we want to make life easier beginning with the little things,” added co-founder and CEO, Yoo-hwa Kim.
Similarly, LINECARE was developed by students who recognized the need to address a gap and social concern in the healthcare system. LINECARE is a medical information services platform that streamlines healthcare services by providing accessible, transparent hospital information and digitalizing patient data. Although LINECARE launched in the Philippines only last year, the service has already made substantial impact. For example, the platform’s reservation system has helped queue lines decrease from an average of 6 hours to less than 30 minutes, while the added transparency has reduced medical costs by 15%. LINECARE was founded by Hanyang University graduate students, Dongsuk Oh, Joonghyo Lee, and Sukkyu Na, when they learned that a majority of the population in the Philippines fail to receive proper and timely medical attention and care due to inefficient reception procedures and the lack of hospital information publicly available. In turn, hospitals and doctors continue to experience difficulty manually handling healthcare and patient data. LINECARE plans on expanding its product to other global markets, including Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand, in phases over the next several years.
MUNE and LINECARE’s early achievements have not gone unnoticed. These two startups were chosen out of over a hundred startup applicants in the Asia-Pacific region for the opportunity to network with accelerators, investors and entrepreneurs, and also pitch their business at the Youth Co: Lab Summit 2019. Over the four-day summit, 700 delegates, including government officials from 20 countries, private sector participants and investors, NGOs, and academia, participated in dedicated sessions and workshops to discuss ways to further the agenda of youth empowerment and support social entrepreneurs in their respective industries and countries. A South Korean delegation consisting of representatives from UNDP Seoul Policy Centre, Citibank Korea, and KOICA (Korea International Cooperation Agency) accompanied the two startup teams to provide mentorship and exchange dialogue on uplifting startups through system-level changes in their endeavor to tackle global challenges through the achievement of SDGs.
Youth Co: Lab, co-created by UNDP and the Citi Foundation in 2017, is a solution platform for engaging today’s youth to establish a common agenda for Asia-Pacific countries to invest in and empower youth to accelerate implementation of the SDGs to solve social problems through leadership, social innovation, and entrepreneurship.
One of the many goals of Korea’s Youth Co: Lab chapter, which is led by UNDP Seoul Policy Centre, is to support young, innovative Korean startups like MUNE and LINECARE expand internationally through program and policy support. “As a node for global partnerships, UNDP Seoul Policy Centre spearheads and supports initiatives and programs that bridges together partners for SDG attainment,” said Ms. Hye-Jin Park, the centre’s Communication and Partnerships Specialist.
“One of our ultimate goals is to grow globally to address healthcare concerns around the world. UNDP’s global network and reach is especially helpful for early startups like us, and Youth Co: Lab will continue to help us immensely in finding partners and stakeholders that we are able to cooperate with,” said Joonghyo Lee, co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of LINECARE. Jacob of MUNE also expressed appreciation for the Youth Co: Lab Summit 2019: “Market research first helped us recognize the social challenges faced by healthcare workers. We look forward to expanding our domain knowledge through the network we built in Hanoi with other aspiring entrepreneurs for greater global impact,” he said.
About the Youth Co:Lab Summit 2019: https://www.youthcolab.com/summit
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