On September 20th, BioHealth Innovation, Inc. (BHI) hosted a delegation from KOSME, the Korea SMEs and Startups Agency. Leading the overseas team was KOSME’s President, Dr. Hakdo Kim, who met with BHI board members, Entrepreneurs in Residence, and recorded a “BioTalk with Rich Bendis” podcast episode in which Dr. Kim discussed a new partnership with BHI and a Memorandum of Understanding KOSME signed with the State of Maryland.
KOSME is a Korean-government funded non-profit created over forty years ago to support small and medium enterprises in Korea. In 2001, KOSME opened the Northern Virginia-based KBDC as an outpost to support Korean companies interested in joining the US marketplace.
Because BHI has built a decade-long track record assisting international biohealth companies with soft landings in the National Capital Region, KOSME and BHI recently launched a 20-week program for five Korean companies to explore entering the US market. The cohort was selected from dozens of applicants and include a diagnostics company and four medical device companies.
"Korean companies are known for their innovative cultures and commitment to excellence—that was obvious during the selection process. Many successful companies applied, and we had the luxury of choosing those five who we think will be best positioned for success in the US," said Rich Bendis, BHI's CEO.
The original plan to hold in-person training and mentoring sessions was modified due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the entire 20-week program became virtual, with the first half consisting of weekly classroom sessions and individual mentoring meetings. The second half was designed to encourage project-based work depending on each company's goals.
The cohort includes the following companies and their featured products:
- Medicen developed patient-friendly orthodontic appliances, a dental bracket, and an invisible retractor.
- Philophos created a low-cost, portable and automated OCT (optical coherence tomography) system and a tele-ophthalmic platform.
- Medihub created "i-Ject," a digital automatic syringe that relieves anesthesia delivery pain by controlling injection speed and pressure.
- Value and Trust Co. Ltd (VNTC) developed a customized and dynamic scoliosis brace that includes pressure sensing, pressure adjustment, and real-time data tracking.
- Boditech Med Inc. is a rapid diagnostics company focused on Point of Care Testing.
Dr. Kim and Mr. Bendis envision a long-term proposition for Korean companies locating and expanding in the BioHealth Capital Region. But, in the short-term, there is also a lot to celebrate—on Wednesday, the Korean cohort company VNTC will compete as one of five finalists in BHI’s 2021 Virtual CrabTrap.
“We are always pleased to invite new entrepreneurs into our biohealth cluster. New voices, ideas and innovations are an important part of evolving our ecosystem,” said Bendis.