In an effort to improve water quality, a student-led startup company, affiliated with UNIST has embarked on a new collaboration with a local company to implement a drone-based water quality monitoring scheme.
LOAD, a UNIST-based student startup, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a strategic cooperation with Unicorn of Smart IoT Service (USIS) Co., Ltd. on December 13, 2018. This partnership is significant, especially because this was the first agreement made between a family company of UNIST and a student-led startup.
In the memorandum of understanding, the two organizations promised to accelerate the commercialization of a drone-based water quality analysis system. LOAD, which has a strength in water quality analysis system, and Uusis Co., Ltd., which has strengths in drone and object internet technology, will develop their joint business model by utilizing their competitiveness.
“Collaborating with USIS Co., Ltd. that has considerable expertise in drone technology, will greatly advance the commercialization of smart water quality analysis system,” says YuBin Kim (School of Energy and Chemical Engineering), CEO of LOAD. “When the two join forces to create a new business model, the synergy can be endless.”
Current analytical methods for water-quality studies can be cumbersome and time-consuming, as they require samples to be collected on-site, then deliver to the lab for further processing. Besides, such methods can lead to numerous problems, including high costs and difficulty in transporting samples.
LOAD is currently working on the development of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) systems or drones for environmental research. Their goal is to combine drones with ‘lab-on-a-disk’, a technique that analyzes molecules of nano-size. Their suggestion was to deploy an analysis device on the lower part of their prototype drone to efficiently monitor water pollutants in water bodies. The new device can maximize the accuracy and speed of their data collection in a cost-effective way.
Such approach started from the idea, proposed by YuBin. He has been working on lab-on-a-disk area under the supervision of Professor Yoon-Kyoung Cho in the School of Life Sciences at UNIST. YuBin has been involved in several patent applications and studies on topics closely related to Environmental & Analytical Chemistry.
The LOAD team, composed of UNIST students, has recently been awarded grand prize (Award of the Ministry of Defense) at the “2018 Startup Competition, Using National Defense Technology”. Their achievements have been well recognized at the K-startup Grand Challenge 2018, held by the Korea Water Resources Corporation (K-water).
The signing ceremony of MoU between UNIST and USIS Co., Ltd. was held in UNISPARK. The ceremony has been attended by President Il Woo Lee and Vice President SungWoo Park of USIS Co., Ltd., CEO YuBin Kim of LOAD, Tae Heon Kim (School of Life Sciences), YouJin Ha (School of Life Sciences), Sihyeong Park (School of Life Sciences), Professor Hyun-Deok Kang (School of Life Sciences) and Professor ByeonYoon Jeong (School of Energy and Chemical Engineering).