WAYMED Endo is a medical AI software that helps high-quality endoscopy by detecting abnormal lesions in real time. CEO Kim Kyung-nam explains that Waycen is the only company in the world that has a lineup of AI endoscopic video analysis in both stomach and large intestine.
CEO Kim said, "It is necessary to find early gastric cancer (EGC), but the characteristics of this lesion are difficult to pattern due to various stages," adding, "It is difficult to distinguish inflammatory gastritis, gastric submucosal tumor (SMT), and early gastric cancer if only held in prognostic management." In particular, it is difficult to detect early gastric cancer in various locations, such as shaded areas in small spaces, so entry barriers are high, he added.
In fact, both Medtronic ('GI Genius') of the United States and Olympus ('Endobrain-I') of Japan, which can be seen as competitors, have only AI colonoscopy imaging devices.
"It was most difficult to help medical staff by analyzing real-time medical images rather than still images," he said. "We used big data on gastroscopy medical images through video learning models, and it was also difficult to build a network with medical staff because we had to collect videos from the time of examination." "We were able to achieve successful results in the business thanks to close cooperation and joint research with hospitals." In fact, Waycen's products were all developed through joint research with hospitals.
Yet only "WAYMED Endo STCS," an AI gastroscopy video analysis device, is designated as a Breakthrough medical device by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety. CEO Kim said, "We will also apply for AI colonoscopy video analysis devices as a Breakthrough medical device next year."
In the domestic colonoscopy equipment market, Olympus's "Evis Lucera Elite" and "Execera III" account for about 70%. For this reason, Waycen has increased compatibility so that WAYMED Endo can be used regardless of the brand of endoscopic equipment. This is different from Endobrain-Ai, which can only be installed on endoscopy devices in Olympus. In addition, the fact that both gastroscopy system and colonoscopy system can be used in a single purchase due to the same program, is expected to be a barrier to competitors entering the market in the future.
The global endoscopic equipment market targeted by WAYMED Endo amounts to about 25 trillion won. Among them, it is actively pushing to enter Southeast Asia and the Middle East, which is growing rapidly. CEO Kim said, "There are many cases of receiving gastric and colonoscopy at once for sleeping anesthesia, but if the programs are different, it will be cumbersome," adding, "WAYMED Endo can conduct gastric and colonoscopy at the same time, which is convenient for both medical staff and examiners."
In Korea, many people do endoscopy, which is not done more than once a year, while in Vietnam it is done more than three times a year. This trend is spreading to neighboring countries, he said. In fact, Waycen installed WAYMED Endo at St. Paul's General Hospital in Hanoi, Vietnam last year, but less than a year after it was installed, the number of tests exceeded 5,000. In recognition of this contribution, Waycen accompanied President Yoon Suk Yeol's economic delegation to Vietnam in June. Waycen also drew attention at an economic dinner held on the first day of Vietnam state visit, sitting at a head table where President Yoon was sitting.
CEO Kim said, "I think it is important as a Medtech company to make a solid reference in this field," and stressed, "We will make WAYMED Endo a cash cow without forcibly turning to other businesses to make sales." Waycen's estimated sales this year are 1.2 billion won to 1.5 billion won, and its target sales for next year are 3 billion won.
Waycen won the Innovation Award for the first time as a medical AI company at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2023 held in Las Vegas in January. Waycen won two awards in the digital healthcare category and two in the software and mobile apps category, respectively, for △ WAYMED Cough △ WAYMED Endo Pro △ WAYMED EBUS. Kim received the Minister of Health and Welfare Award at the KIMES 2023 held in March in recognition of his contribution to promoting the excellence of Korea's medical AI to the global market.
"We will become a MedTech company that encompasses prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and management with 'Waymed Endo', an artificial intelligence (AI) endoscopic video analysis service, and 'Waymed Panic', a digital treatment for panic disorders."
CEO Kim Kyung-nam, who met at Waycen's headquarters in Gangnam-gu, Seoul on the 26th of last month, said this, citing "Johnson & Johnson Meditech" when asked if there were any companies benchmarking.
Waycen claims to be an 'AI Medtech company'. Medtech stands for Medical Technology (Medical Technology) and refers to an industry that designs and manufactures medical devices for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases. Johnson & Johnson Medical also changed its name to Johnson & Jones Medtech last year, expressing its ambition to more actively incorporate digital technology into the medical industry. This means that it will lead innovation in the future medical market combined with digital, including robotic surgery devices and medical software.
CEO Kim said, "Johnson & Johnson is the only company that combines medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and bio," and explained, "We are taking it as a good reference because they are leading a huge investment in Medtech technology."
CEO Kim is an AI expert who graduated from KAIST's Department of Electronics and Electrical Engineering and received a master's degree in electronic engineering and computer vision at Pohang University of Technology (POSTECH). He started his career at Samsung Electronics, served as vice president of Polaris Office (041020), served as CEO of Selvas AI (108860) from 2015 to 2019, and founded Waycen, an AI medical company, after leaving Selvas AI. Selvas AI, a company specializing in AI, is an AI convergence product company that develops and provides digital textbooks and voice synthesis solutions, and is also engaged in medical device-related business through its subsidiary company Selvas Healthcare.
CEO Kim said, "I decided to start a business after discovering the growth potential of the medical industry at an AI-specialized company and with the intention of creating a life where everyone can live healthier and longer with AI technology."
The name of Waycen also contains a vision for such a project. Waycen is a combination of 'WAY' and 'CENTER'. CEO Kim said, "It means that we will find proper prevention, diagnosis, and treatment in the medical AI field based on quality management and provide a way to the medical industry," adding, "I think it will definitely help the medical environment."
CEO Kim, who considered various medical-related business items that can incorporate AI in the early stages of the business, said he judged that AI-based video diagnosis solutions are the most suitable considering marketability and current technology levels.
CEO Kim said, "Korea has long accumulated medical data on the resident registration number system based on the entire population, and the government leads the health insurance business, while Japan has a workplace insurance system, making it difficult to continue accumulating data. Singapore (6 million people) and Taiwan (24 million people) also run health insurance businesses but they have a much smaller population than Korea” he said. "AI-based video solutions can be predicted and diagnosed through big data by accumulating related data in time series."
Waycen has a total of 37 executives and employees, of which 52% are developers. The number of master's and doctorate degrees is 35 percent of all executives and employees, with the largest number of computer science majors.
Shares of Waycen, a privately held company, are currently not traded over-the-counter yet. Currently, the largest shareholder is CEO Kim.
"We are currently preparing for a technical evaluation with the goal of an Initial Public offering (IPO) next year."
I met Kim Kyung-nam, CEO of Waycen, a promising medical AI player, at the headquarters in Samsung-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul on the 26th of last month. CEO Kim, who announced his entry into the KOSDAQ market with the goal of next year, expressed his ambition to become a global AI Medtech company whose export share exceeds that of domestic demand within five years.
Starting with Chat GPT at the beginning of the year, AI-related stocks attracted attention, and stocks related to AI diagnosis assistance and AI new drug development also benefited. Among them, the stock price of AI diagnostic assistive devices, which are the fastest in business, has been on a double-digit rise every day. The stock price of Lunit (328130), the leader of AI medical devices, rose 576% in about seven months, hitting a 52-week high of 201,500 won on the 13th of last month from 29,800 won at the end of last year (December 29, 2022). Coreline Soft withdrew its listing plan after passing the technical evaluation in 2021, but this time it is steadily proceeding with the IPO process with the goal of September. Attention is focusing on whether Waycen will also be able to benefit from this trend by speeding up its IPO schedule.
While currently listed JLK (332510), Vuno (338220), Deepnoid (315640), and Lunit (328130) develop software to assist in X-ray, CT, MRA analysis and biosignal analysis, Waycen, founded in 2019 by Kim Kyung-nam, former CEO of SelvasAI, is a company that analyzes endoscopic images and diagnoses medical staff with AI technology. CEO Kim said, "We believed that early diagnosis of fatal diseases with a high incidence rate is profitable in business like," adding, "Gastric cancer and colon cancer have a cure rate of 90% when detected early, and we judged that the only early diagnosis method meets this standard." He added, "There are competitors such as Olympus and Medtronic among foreign brands, but both companies only do colonoscopy image analysis business, and we are the only ones dealing with gastroscopy and colonoscopy at the same time."
Considering the technology evaluation of bio-ventures and the screening trend of the Korea Exchange, Waycen's proof of business feasibility is expected to be the key to crossing the KOSDAQ threshold. CEO Kim plans to make sales in Korea with gastroscopy image analysis devices this year and make full-fledged sales in overseas markets by next year.
Waycen's AI gastroscopy image analysis device "WAYMED Endo ST CS" was also designated as a Breakthrough medical device by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety on the 20th. Currently, doctors buy it at their own expense and use it as a medical aid, but if it is designated as an innovative medical device, it will be possible to enter the non-payment market. Waycen is preparing a follow-up procedure for this.
A company official said, "It is believed that the AI endoscope market has been opened by designating as a Breakthrough medical device while being sold to public medical hospitals and university hospitals. It is also meaningful in that it has laid the foundation for payment” he said. "The domestic AI endoscope market is estimated to be worth 1.2 trillion won, and Waycen's WAYMED Endo is the only one designated as a Breakthrough medical device."
Last year, Waycen's annual sales were only 100 million won. However, when I asked CEO Kim about the expected sales of Waycen this year, he answered, "At least 1.2 billion won and up to 1.5 billion won." CEO Kim said, "In the case of WAYMED Endo, it is a subscription-type service, so the sales will increase significantly as time accumulates, and meaningful sales are already occurring in Korea," adding, "We will achieve 3 billion won in annual sales next year."
"Next year is the 'first year of exports' for Waycen," he said. WAYMED Endo has already been piloted in Dubai, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam and is scheduled to be piloted in Egypt, and by the end of September and October, it will also be piloted in Saudi Arabia's general hospital, which is about the second largest in the Middle East market. "We plan to start pilot services at more than six national general hospitals by the end of this year," CEO Kim explained. By 2027, the company is preparing to step up its global expansion so that the proportion of sales from exports can exceed domestic sales.
Waycen was selected by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups' technology-based startup support program TIPS in 2020 and received a total of 7.5 billion won in investment through Series A and Series A bridges. It is also preparing to attract additional investment before the IPO. CEO Kim said, "We are planning to attract Series B investment in the second half of this year." In Series B, Waycen's goal is to attract 10 billion won in investment with a corporate value of 100 billion won.
Waycen (CEO Kim Kyung-nam) and Gangneung Asan Hospital (Director Yoo Chang-sik) were selected for the 2023 AI voucher support project organized by the Ministry of Science and ICT and the NIPA and signed an MOU for business cooperation on the 23rd.
Through this agreement, the two companies plan to actively cooperate to quickly introduce and utilize medical AI software in the stomach/colorectal endoscopy medical field to conduct high-quality endoscopy so that the AI voucher business can be successfully carried out.
Gangneung Asan Hospital has been certified as an excellent institution in the evaluation of national examination institutions for the past 12 years and introduced AI digestive endoscopy "WAYMED ENDO" with the aim of operating high-quality endoscopy by combining artificial intelligence technology.
The AI voucher support project is a project supported by the government to introduce optimal AI for companies that need to apply AI products and services. This project supports medical institutions, ventures, and mid-sized companies to introduce optimal AI solutions within a short period of time.
Gangneung Asan Hospital was able to introduce AI digestive endoscopy for the first time in Gangwon-do general hospital, as hospitals receive support for the introduction of AI products and AI companies can spread their products.
Through the AI voucher project, Waycen successfully secured Gangneung Asan Hospital, one of the target hospitals in Korea, said Kim Kyung-nam, CEO of Waycen. "As Gangneung Asan Hospital is a representative regional base hospital, we will do our best to expand it to nearby hospitals, starting with this recent reference."
Waycen, AI MEDTECH company, was recognized for its technology in the global healthcare market, being selected as a top 20 company in the Asia Pacific Accelerator Program organized by Medtech Innovator.
Medtech Innovator Asia-Pacific Program is an annual program to discover healthcare innovation company and conducted by Medtech Innovator. Sponsored by various Global healthcare companies such as Johnson & Johnson, NIPRO, Align, and Siemens Healthcare, the program is famous for actively cultivating competent companies. The judges are also composed of officials from global healthcare companies and institutions and evaluate the products.
Waycen was selected for its innovation and technology in artificial intelligence based real-time endoscopic video analysis technology. The related product, "WAYMED endo", is an artificial intelligence technology that quickly and accurately detects abnormal lesions during gastrointestinal and colon endoscopy to improve medical staff's work accuracy and patient's digestive health.
Through this qualification, Waycen will receive customized mentoring from global healthcare companies and investors. It also matches one-on-one with partners that can help commercialize Asia and the Americas. Waycen said, "As we are already conducting a pilot project through a cooperative hospital in Vietnam, we expect to gain momentum from the current overseas expansion project."
"This year's Asia-Pacific Accelerator program has selected the most promising companies in the field that want to solve critical life-related problems in healthcare," said Paul Grand, CEO of Medtech Innovator.
Following the CES Innovation Award earlier this year, Waycen's technology has been recognized globally, said Kim Kyung-nam, CEO of Waycen. "We will do our best to establish ourselves as an AI MEDTECH company that leads the medical markets in Asia and the U.S."
Meanwhile, Waycen has recently collaborated with a local hospital in Hanoi, Vietnam, to push for a pilot project of the AI gastrointestinal endoscope "WAYMED endo" and is actively working on a project to target the Southeast Asian market. It plans to expand its overseas business by discovering partners to make good business results in Asia and the Americas within this year.
Reporter Sujin Kim (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Experts in St. Paul General Hospital in Hanoi, Vietnam is using WayMED endo.
[Dailian = Reporter Kungkyung Nam] AI MEDTECH company Waycen began AI gastrointestinal joint project at the local hospital in Vietnam to transfer ‘K-digital health care.’
Waycen, which has a partnership with Kangbuk Samsung hospital in the digital healthcare field, announced on the 1st that it will implement a pilot project for gastrointestinal endoscopy cooperation through AI-based gastric and colonoscopy software "WayMED Endo" at St. Paul General Hospital in Vietnam starting this month.
The pilot project plans to install Waycen's AI-based gastric and colon-endoscopic video analysis software, WayMED endo in the endoscopy room of St. Paul General Hospital, and use the global cooperation platform to directly transfer endoscopic skills and know-how for high-quality endoscopic tests to Vietnamese medical staff. Since actual endoscopy is conducted for overseas Koreans and local citizens, the project is receiving a lot of attention in Vietnam.
St. Paul General Hospital is founded in 1911. It is one of the leading general hospitals in Hanoi with more than 1,000 beds. Through this pilot project, St. Paul General Hospital plans to improve the level of endoscopy and contribute to leveling up the medical services so it can provide high-quality endoscopic medical services, encouraging healthy life of not only Vietnamese but also Koreans living there.
“WayMED endo was recognized for its innovation at CES earlier this year and is believed to have high potential to be used as global medical services through this pilot project in Vietnam” said Kim Kyung-nam, CEO of Waycen. "We will do our best to preoccupy the global medical market beyond Asia with next-generation endoscopic product."
Reporter Kungkyung Nam (email@example.com)