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Moving forward, companies with solutions for social and environmental issues will be highly regarded as investment targets, more so than those in good financial health, according to the chief executive officer of Korea Venture Investment Corp. (KVIC).
“If a company solely prioritizes its financial value and has problems with its environmental, social, and governance (ESG) value orientation, the company will be excluded from our investments,” KVIC CEO Ryu Woong-hwan said during a lecture at the “World Knowledge Forum Busan,” which took place at the Paradise Hotel in Busan, South Korea, on Thursday. KVIC operates the country’s Ministry of SMEs and Startups’ Fund of Funds, which invests in venture capital (VC) to indirectly support the growth of small and venture companies. KVIC has actively promoted the spread of ESG management among companies by establishing an ESG management team and an ESG management committee this year, among other initiatives.
Ryu emphasized that “Tech for Good,” or using technology to solve social problems, has become a critical issue and that it is essential to establish a sustainable business model through the realization of ESG values to achieve a sustainable venture ecosystem.
“We will consider ESG assessments when selecting fund managers at the investment stage, and will not invest in industries that violate ESG values.”
Ryu added, “We will also introduce ESG information disclosure, monitoring, and risk management, as well as incentive systems.” Through these measures, KVIC will establish a global-level sustainable investment standard to be competitive in the global market.
In this environment, startups leading the way in realizing ESG values are gaining more attention and Dot Inc. is one of them. Founder and CEO Kim Ju-yoon also spoke at the forum, saying, “As the importance of ESG values grows, startups focusing on this sector naturally receive more attention.” He expressed hope that when this trend spreads, Korean startups will have the opportunity to demonstrate global leadership in ESG management. Kim developed the world’s first tactile graphic display for the visually impaired, known as Dot Pad, and the product is now commercialized in more than 20 countries. The innovative technology and idea of being able to feel letters and pictures through the sense of touch earned Dot Pad the “Best Innovation Award” at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
Kim was inspired to start the company after seeing a Bible being converted into 22 large braille Bibles. “I will continue to focus on how new technologies can be used to help people with disabilities in education, employment, and rehabilitation,” he said, while also expressing his determination to create a Korean wave in the ESG field.
James Kim, chairman and CEO of the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea (AMCHAM), also spoke, emphasizing in his speech that “ESG management is no longer a short-term trend, but has become a new paradigm and a core strategy for corporate growth.” AMCHAM has actively supported the sustainable management of its member companies since forming its ESG Committee in 2021. “AMCHAM’s ESG Committee is the most active among more than 30 subcommittees,” according to Dot CEO Kim.
By Bae Han-cheol, Park Dong-min, Choi Seung-gyun, and Yoon Yeon-hae
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