The Korea University Crimson Business Innovation Center hosted the 22nd Campus CEO Startup Contest with the aim of helping students to develop great startup ideas, encouraging them to start their own businesses, and nurturing student entrepreneurs.
▲Group photo with participants of the Campus CEO Startup Contest
A total of 18 teams, composed of students who took the entrepreneurship class in the 1st semester of 2019, gathered in the multimedia room located on Hana Square, Korea University. TEAM500, the contest winner, attracted great attention from the judges and other participants as they progressed through four tournament rounds, from the preliminary round to the final. Despite only three months of preparation, their ideas were eye-catching and professional, and had real marketability.
The team leader is Dong-yeong Kim, who is in the master’s degree course at the School of Biomedical Engineering. The other team members, who are all in master’s degree courses, are Moon-bae Jeon, Chang-hwan Cho, and Joo-yong Shim (all from the School of Electrical Engineering), and Yeong-hun Kim (’10, School of Biomedical Engineering). We met with Dong-yeong to learn about TEAM500 and its members.
“Our goal is to run a healthcare business incorporating our own healthcare research institute,” says Dong-yeong, the team leader. “In assembling our team, we tried to recruit people with a specific skill for each area of research, which would help the team be successful. What we presented at the contest involved smart sensor technology, data analysis, and the development of mobile applications. We needed to have the right person for each task so that we could combine the technical expertise of all our team members.”
TEAM500 does not solely seek to launch a business and earn profits, as the team also wants to conduct fundamental research, apply for patents, transfer their technology or introduce their healthcare model to the US. Dong-yeong, who himself suffers from a chronic disease, has always wanted to be part of developments that enhance human health. He is very aware of the need to develop a new approach to helping patients with chronic diseases to overcome their conditions.
“Chronic diseases refer to pathological conditions that last more than three months and cannot be recovered from with ease. They also require long-term medical treatment and attention to deal with their aftereffects.
Among chronic diseases, diabetes requires the measurement of blood sugar levels on a regular basis, and constant care taken to ensure healthy levels, as well as checks on patients' general health condition. With conventional devices, diabetic patients have to prick their fingers with a needle, which has been one of the reasons they are reluctant to measure their blood glucose level. Surveys have found that people with diabetes tend to have more than twice the chance of developing depression than others. As a result, the initial goal of our project was to develop a non-invasive glucose measuring device and associated applications.”
Startups Need Both Technical prowess and management
While they were researching non-invasive glucose monitoring devices which have resulted from previous R&D, they discovered Google Contact Lens, which was designed to measure glucose levels through tear drops, but failed due to technical issues. TEAM500 believed glucose monitoring could be done in various ways, for example using sweat, urine, or tears, but the team focused on their primary goal, which is to make glucose monitoring more comfortable for patients. They then came to the decision that they should use saliva as a medium to accomplish this. As brushing our teeth every day is natural to most of us, TEAM500 thought it would be easy for diabetes sufferers to monitor glucose levels if they could combine it with teeth-brushing. They also found cases in the research literature of the use of saliva to measure blood sugar levels. On this basis, they worked to increase the accuracy of this approach. Finally, they succeeded in developing a toothbrush-like glucose monitoring device with smart sensors. The sensors, which are Wi-fi-connected, send data to an associated mobile application so that users can check their glucose levels on a regular basis, at least three times a day.
▲Dong-yeong Kim making a presentation at the contest
“There may be many factors that helped us win the grand prize, but I believe our members, who all have practical abilities in their areas of expertise, were the major driving force behind our achievement,” says Dong-yeong. “Moon-bae Jeon has experience in developing a sensor designed to detect liquid drugs. Chang-hwan Cho also has experience in developing IoT devices. Joo-yong Shim once worked for a data analysis project and also knows how to develop an Android application. My expertise is planning, designing and managing projects. When I was working for a large conglomerate, I learned how to establish corporate strategies and carry out medical device research projects. I am very familiar with the procedures to follow if I want to get approval from the medical device licensing authority. Currently, we are drawing up a detailed business model. Yeong-hun Kim, who joined our team a bit later than the others, has conducted extensive customer research to help identify how to improve our product.”
▲Commemorative photo, recognizing the team's victory at the contest
TEAM500 plans to develop more products so that they can help patients deal with chronic diseases other than diabetes. In having Team500 as one of the frontrunners in the field and a model to follow, Korea University hopes to see more students bring fresh ideas to the table, tackling any challenges they may encounter along the way.