Startup Semester: UNIST Spotlight


November 6, 2017



Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology, or UNIST, is a leading university in South Korea that aims to immerse students in a creative and technical atmosphere to advance research. UNIST has four core strategies to achieve this:

  • Creativity: UNIST uses IT-based student-centered discussion learning similar to the “flipped classroom” concept rather than having regular lectures.
  • Interdisciplinary education: UNIST requires its students to complete two or more concentrations so that they can gain experience in multiple fields.
  • Globalization: All classes are taught in English and students are encouraged to visit other technologically advanced countries to develop a new understanding of science on a global scale.
  • Research-intensive: UNIST focuses much of its research on next-generation energy, advanced materials (bio, carbon, composite and energy).

Since UNIST is focused on developing research and making discoveries, they also have a strong focus on entrepreneurship and encourage the university students to pursue their own ventures. HeeJae Won, BeomSeok Kim, Chan Jang, Soohyung Park, and Dong-Eun Suh are visiting students partaking in the Startup Semester at the University of California at Berkeley to learn more about entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley. These students are working with Berkeley professors and researchers in hopes of bringing their newfound knowledge about developing startups back to UNIST in the spring.  

Startup Semester

Startup Semester is a program at Cal run by the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology where visiting students from around the world come together to learn about developing their own startups. Startup Semester helps students to commercialize research and enhance their knowledge on science and technology.

When asked about how Startup Semester works, Dong-Eun Suh emphasized how she is able to connect with venture capitalists and receive feedback from them, informing how to move forward in her research. She mentioned that it was a remarkable experience to come to class and negotiate how to get funding from VC’s.

HeeJae came to Berkeley because he is in the beginning stages for his startup and wanted to learn from professors on what he can do to develop it. HeeJae is working on a music application that helps experts more easily practice and prevent music composers from creating too similar or already published pieces. HeeJae would do this by comparing the data that is collected and seeing how similar a certain piece is to an original.

Chan Jang is the only developer on the team and is embarking on his own startup journey at Berkeley. He wants to create a form of eSports (electronic sports), which is a type of gaming where players and teams are mediated by computer systems.

Dong-Eun Suh is working on a research study where she is purifying recycling plastics through a digester tank filled with bacteria. After Dongeun found this bacteria from a bug, she patented i the unique method she used to purify the plastics. To further her research, she worked on discovering how she can commercialize this digester tank, in order to enhance the quality of recycled plastic. She also have met the former researcher working on only styrofoam, in Stanford. The first time she met this researcher was when she got the Tony B. Academic Travel Award to present her work in Washington D.C., SLAS 2017. After coming over Startup Semester, she was able to meet him again and discuss collaboration and further progression.

The UNIST team mentioned how thankful they were to have Rick Rasmussen as a mentor at Startup Semester because he has helped them learn how to manage their time and how to improve their ideas through experimenting and optimizing. The team mentioned how before coming to Berkeley they needed to work on building their business skills and how to frame a business model or how to gauge product-market fit. After being enrolled in Startup Semester they have learned more about finance and how to create a business plan from the ground up.


To learn more about UNIST, click here.