3rd Swiss-Korean Life Science Symposium – Digital Healthcare Innovation


LSI xbannerThe 3rd Swiss-Korean Life Science Symposium was held on July 14th, 2016 at Grand Hyatt Seoul, Korea. As the third edition of the Life Science Symposium Series, the Symposium was opened by special guest  President of the Swiss Confederation, Johann N. Schneider-Ammann. President Schneider-Ammann presented the numerous initiatives of Switzerland to lead the way in the digital health area and how Switzerland is keen to partner with Korea.

On the Korean side, Minister of Health and Welfare Chinyoub Chung spoke at the opening of the Symposium as a co-sponsor of the event and presented the vision of the Korean Government to partner with Switzerland in exporting digital health competences around the world.

Ahead of the Symposium and in the framework of the Official Summit between the Swiss and Korean Presidents, the two governments agreed to work together to promote more collaboration in life science, medtech and healthcare R&D. The goal is to further build up a public-private platform, the Swiss-Korean Life Science Initiative to foster innovation.

The Symposium, which lasted one day and attracted roughly 300 visitors, was co-organised by the Science and Technology Office of the Embassy of Switzerland in Korea and the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI). The main supporters were the Swiss State Secretary for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) and the Ministry of Health and Welfare of Korea (MOHW) as well as Roche Korea, Roche Diagnostics Korea and Novartis Korea.

Details about the Symposium can be found on the webpage www.skls.or.kr. From both Switzerland and Korea, a total of 18 speakers took part in the Symposium to share their meaningful lectures on digital healthcare. The following topics were covered in each session.

  • The role of digital healthcare in society
  • Examples of digital health
  • Private industry approaches in digital health

True to the spirit and idea of the Life Science Initiative, speakers were of a very diverse background from different types of institutions:

  • Academia including University of Basel, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology, and ETH Zürich
  • Korean government institutions including Ministry of Health & Welfare, and KHIDI
  • Hospitals including University Hospital of Geneva, Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, Yonsei University Health System, Samsung Medical Center, and University Hospital Basel
  • Private sector including Novartis, Roche, Samsung Electronics, Korea Telecom, and Swiss Biotech Association

Swiss Speakers

The Swiss speakers from Basel included University of Basel President Andrea Schenker-Wicki, Hans- Florian Zeilhofer as Head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering as well as Hans-Peter Beck from the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH). Their focus was on introducing the Basel ecosystem for life science and medtech innovations including the recent numerous innovations to support local entrepreneurship and innovation. In Korea, the University of Basel strongly focuses on building partnerships with Yonsei University Health System (YUHS) and other institutions to cooperate in R&D and to offer common Degrees. Swiss TPH is in discussions with Korean start-ups and companies for R&D cooperation in rapid diagnostic devices.

Christian LovisAlain Gervaix from University Hospitals Geneva spoke about concrete projects in e-health at their hospital during paediatric CPR and drug delivery as well as a more general introduction to big data initiatives and the environment in Switzerland. The two representatives visited several hospitals in Korea to discuss cooperation and how to link big-data initiatives in medicine between Switzerland and Korea.

Walter Karlen represented ETH Zürich and introduced the Department of Health Sciences and Technology, whose main aim is to preserved health and quality of life. Prof Karlen is a specialist on mobile health and is working on chronic wound monitoring using a special software. 

The representative from the private industry (Novartis, Roche) focused on their companies’ activities in digital health, still a relatively new topic for the pharma industries with different projects. Both companies have interest to develop projects and cooperation with Korean partners. 

Finally, the CEO of the Swiss Biotech Association, Nic Alexakis, presented a Swiss Biotech industry overview and held several meetings with Korean companies wishing to expand partnerships in Switzerland. Cooperation with the Korean Biotech Association (Korea Bio) and KOTRA has also been intensified with a view to increase match-making activities for R&D partners. 

Korean Speakers

From the Korean side, the Ministry of Health and Welfare and KHIDI introduced their plans on the development on the Korean health industry as well as challenges through ageing of the Korean population. A key answer will come from using digital technologies as well as big data analysis and investing more in R&D.

The speakers from Yonsei University Health System and SNU Hospital Bundang presented their impressive patient data management systems and how they are using big data for better health outcomes. The presentations also showed that large Korean hospitals are cooperating closely with Korean telecom companies and there are plans and projects to expand their systems abroad.

Academic representatives from Korea included Prof Woongyu Jung from UNIST who has his own start-up Conecson with mobile-based technologies for endoscopes, Prof Woongyang Park who is in charge of the Genome Institute at Samsung Medical Center and researches on genome-guided targeted therapies for cancer.

Finally, three representatives from Korean companies talked about future plans to use digital technologies: Green Cross Labs explained about AI-based computer programs for clinical use in diagnosis, Korea Telecom is focusing on offering platform services for big data and IoT and Samsung Electronics on mobile health.

Outcomes and Further Actions

One day after the Symposium, the main supporters and drivers of the Swiss Korean Life Science Initiative met to discuss future collaborations plans.  It was decided that a next Symposium would take place in Switzerland and suggestions for topics and locations will be collected. Both governments will continue to support start-up activities and institutional collaboration in R&D. Finally a data sharing initiative between Swiss and Korean hospitals will be explored.


Presentations (pdf see below) and program:

Jeremy Sohn, Vice President/Head of Digital Business Development & Licensing, Novartis
“Digital Health Trends & The Opportunity for Pharma”

Christian Lovis, Chairman of Medical Information Sciences / Professor University Hospital of Geneva
“Swiss Initiative, Big Data, Personalized medicine in Switzerland: Convergence of the legal frame work, care system and research”

Hans-Peter Beck, Professor, Head of Research Unit, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute
“The need for mobile devices for rapid diagnosis of febrile or infectious diseases in resource- poor countries”

Alain Gervaix, Vice-Dean, Humanitarian and International Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva
“E-health: reducing medication errors and time to drug delivery during pediatric CPR”

Walter Karlen, Assistant Professor, Department of Health Sciences and Technology, ETH Zürich
“Mobile health systems automation for point-of-care monitoring and health self-management”

Hans-Florian Zeilhofer, Head/Professor, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Department, University Hospital Basel
“The Basel med-tech innovation hub and its emerging links with Korea”

Domenico Alexakis, CEO, Swiss Biotech Association
“Swiss Biotech™ – An overview”

Sung Soo Kim, CIO, Yonsei University Health System
“Healthcare Intelligent System, Not only as an Information System, the Next Generation Domain in Healthcare”

Woong-Yang Park, Director, Samsung Genome Institute, Samsung Medical Center
“Improvement of clinical outcome in refractory cancer patients by individualized genome-guided therapy”

Dong Seok Cha, Vice President, Korea Telecom (KT)
“Data! Key to unraveling your body’s secrets”