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Cases of social impact group in South Korea, NOUL
The world’s first gold standard point-of-care malaria diagnostics device
© Hyun Shin, Hanyang University

Malaria is an illness which comes with severe fever and anemia. Although the disease is treatable, it can result in death if left untreated. Until now, rapid diagnostic tests and microscopic readings have been the primary methods to diagnose malaria.

Currently, Africa accounts for 92 percent of the global malaria outbreak, which affects more than 200 million people every year. In Africa, however, there is a need for additional test methods as the conventional methods have low diagnostic accuracy and sensitivity, while the tests are also time-consuming and labor costs for laboratories and skilled technicians are high.

In particular, inaccurate diagnostic tests often lead to abuse of antibiotics, causing antibiotic resistance. Indeed, the World Health Organization (WHO) lists antibiotic resistance issues as the biggest threat to global health today.

As there is no simple, inexpensive solution for antibiotic prescription guidance, NOUL is developing a next-generation state-of-the-art diagnostic tool, which can quickly and easily confirm fever diagnosis for malaria and antibiotic prescription guidance on-site by taking advantage of the power of artificial intelligence.

The device is a technology that quickly scans and automatically analyzes blood cell images using a cartridge containing a drop of blood from the fingertip. Afterward, through data learning, it enables diagnosis and real-time data management of various diseases including malaria, blood diseases, infectious diseases, immune diseases, and cancer. Such a process makes it possible to diagnose quickly and accurately in developing countries.

NOUL has also developed Micro-Intelligent Laboratory (miLab), the company’s blood diagnostic device platform that automates and validates all processes of microscopic blood diagnosis that were available only in existing large hospitals and laboratories.

The company expects that medical professionals will be able to determine whether to prescribe antibiotics if they have a solution that can determine if the patient’s heat source is bacteria or not. Recently the company signed a collaborative research agreement with Wezi Medical Center, a hospital in Malawi, East Africa. Under the accord, it has established a tropical and infectious disease (TID) center at the hospital. The TID center will focus on diagnosing fever for malaria and antibiotic resistance as its first goal.

With the mission of “We explore global challenges that threaten human health and life, discover novel potential solutions, and realize those possibilities,” the company has received over 7 million USD of awards and grants, and attracted more than 10 million USD of investment.

Please analyze the NOUL’s case and derive its SBM, considering one of the following key questions:

  • Social Value Proposition (Mission, Vision, Target social problems)

  • Solution: Products/Services, differentiation, core competence

  • Market Side (Target customers/beneficiaries, channel, CRM)

  • Operation Side (Key activities, Team, Collaboration)

  • Performance (Financial/social performance indicators, key achievements)

  • Future goals/agenda

© Hyun Shin, Hanyang University
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Social Innovation in South Korea

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