Innovation That Matters

Global innovation spotlight: South Korea

Global Innovation Spotlight

From a plastic recycling eco-system to a device that translates images into braille, discover exciting new innovations from South Korea

South Korea Innovation Facts

Global Innovation Index ranking: 5th

Climate targets: reduce emissions by 40 per cent below 2018 levels by 2030, carbon neutral by 2050.

Sustainability issues:

Air quality – Air pollution is a significant issue in South Korea. In one survey by the Ministry of Environment, 97 per cent people of people said that air pollution was causing them physical or psychological pain. Some of this pollution is home grown, but experts estimate that around 60 per cent of South Korea’s air pollution is blown into the country from China.

Coal power – South Korea’s continued reliance on coal power contributes to the country’s homegrown air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Coal accounts for nearly 30 per cent of South Korea’s total primary energy supply, and nearly 45 per cent of the country’s electricity supply is generated from coal

Water management – South Korea suffers from both high population density and water scarcity – which is exacerbated by pollution from livestock and storm water run-off. Moreover, the country faces a higher risk of flooding than other developed countries. As a result, the country faces significant water-related risks, which makes water management a critical issue.

Sector specialisms:



Social and leisure

Source: Startupblink

Three Exciting Innovations From South Korea

AI device translates images and webpages into Braille
Photo source Dot


With only around three per cent of the world’s accessible texts available in Braille, people living with sight impairments have an extremely limited library from which to choose. Set to transform this situation is South Korean assistive device company Dot. With its new artificial intelligence (AI) powered software, the company is making more content—including images—available to Braille readers. Read more.

Partnership creates sustainable plastic recycling eco-system
Photo source Innerbottle


LG Chem, the chemical unit of South Korea’s LG Group, has joined forces with a local reusable plastic bottle manufacturer and a leading logistics company to establish a more efficient and sustainable recycling system for plastic cosmetic containers. The move comes as part of the company’s wider efforts to tackle the global issue of plastic waste. Startup InnerBottle produces reusable plastic bottles with a replaceable elastic silicon inner layer, while CJ Logistics collects used bottles from customers. LG Chem itself sources materials for the production of the reusable bottles. Read more.

Sustainable flour alternative from barley
Photo source Olga Kudriavtseva on Unsplash


Seoul-based food upcycling startup RE:Harvest has created a new flour alternative made from upcycled barley from the production of beer and sikhye – a traditional sweet Korean beverage. The powder is not only more sustainable than traditional flour – it also has a higher protein content. As society moves towards plant-based diets, protein-rich nutritious flours could be an important part of the solution to feeding the world sustainably. Read more.

Words: Matthew Hempstead

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