Based on its own special purpose drones, self-driving systems, scalable Internet of Things platform, USIS is preparing for a spectacular emergency, and a smart small and medium-sized company that has the upper hand in competition with metropolitan companies as well as collaboration. Lee Il-woo, CEO of USIS, who has built a nest in Ulsan Techno Industrial Complex called "Silicon Valley in Ulsan" and is evolving by expanding its spectrum. If you are considering moving to a special regulatory free zone, you should pay attention to his success strategy.
Watch out for the innovation lab, the regulatory free zone.
Innovation refers to "introducing new methods that have not been done so far" and "changing or fixing old things and making them very new." However, innovative technologies and new industries have to go through countless difficulties before they enter the market.
Among them, unnecessary and unreasonable regulations are one of the biggest obstacles to innovation. In 2019, the government introduced a special regulatory free zone to lift lumps of regulations related to new industries that will drive regional innovation growth and support finance. In the rapidly changing environment such as the 4th Industrial Revolution, 24 institutional devices have been designated in 14 non-metropolitan governments to freely develop and commercialize new technologies without restrictions, and each city and province are leading the way in attracting companies and boosting investment.
"Ulsan is the only city in the country that has three special regulatory zones. This is a rebuttal that there are many opportunities for growth. In particular, Ulsan Techno Industrial Complex, where our company is located, was designated as a special zone for the first time in Ulsan. In addition to the well-equipped environment for industry-academic cooperation, exchanges between other industries can provide a good opportunity for creating new business models. I am confident that it is a Silicon Valley in Ulsan, suitable for the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution."
Lee Il-woo, CEO of USIS, who started as a one-man company and received a presidential commendation for his achievement based on a cooperative network between small and medium-sized companies, and Lee, who is in charge of the Ulsan Techno Industrial Complex Convergence Council, showed extraordinary regional love. As CEO Lee explained, Ulsan Techno Industrial Complex has three educational institutions: Ulsan University, Ulsan Institute of Science and Technology and Ulsan University, and a combination of state-run institutional research complexes, small and medium-sized business research centers and manufacturing complexes.
Currently, companies and related agencies are working together to develop various technologies and demonstrate the goal of creating an ecosystem for the high value-added hydrogen industry. USIS is working with the Korea Institute of Energy Technology on research and development tasks and optimization of hydrogen fuel cells for drones. CEO Lee is preparing for a spectacular emergency by expanding his spectrum through convergence with various fields. His past experience presents meaningful milestones for junior companies and CEOs who are having a hard time.
<The Knowledge Power Plant located on the second floor is a research lab that develops software and the Creative Power Plant is a research lab that develops hardware.>
Bring your thoughts to life. Grow your ability to scale up.
CEO Lee, who started with CF Information Communication Ulsan in 2004, changed his name to USIS in 2011, and is rushing to target unicorn companies that will lead the fourth industrial revolution like the name "Unicorn of Smart IoT System." Fifteen years after its foundation, it moved into Ulsan Techno Industrial Complex to build its office building and completed all preparations for a second leap forward.
The three-story building, shaped like a ship, houses a drone-only factory and a research lab, a knowledge power plant, a creative power plant, and a cafeteria for offices and employees. However, he had to go through growing pains as much as adolescence until he reached the position that others envied.
"At first, we focused on software, including the CAD program, which we use to design shipbuilding and marine vessels. It was difficult to enter the market, but as Hyundai Heavy Industries was registered as a partner, the big three domestic shipbuilders became major customers. Thanks to you, I was able to grow fast. But on the other hand, I was worried. I thought I should prepare for the future by looking at the history of changes in developed countries."
CEO Lee started to build his own technology know-how by developing various software from establishing IT infrastructure to industrial applications. By continuously developing libraries for user convenience and developing industrial equipment for safety management, it gradually increased the proportion of research. As a result, it was selected as a global star venture company by Ulsan City in 2008, and in 2011, it also launched overseas markets in China and Argentina with its own software. In 2014, annual sales surpassed 20 billion won, domestically and internationally.
However, as the shipbuilding industry went downhill, the local economy collapsed, and the aftermath also forced USIS to have a hard time. Sales were halved, but CEO Lee did not give up until the end. By participating in government support projects and developing industrial safety control systems using wireless networks, it has increased its portion of R&D. Everyone said it would not be easy, but he endured with his unique tenacity. At this time, the field of interest became the foundation of Ubiquitous, and served as the priming water for today's growth.
"At that time, I was wondering if I could develop a drone for Hyundai Heavy Industries' overseas operations. At the plant site in the Middle East, the work was carried out by installing CCTV on the tower crane to monitor the site and check the progress, but if dust from the construction site gets on the camera lens or if there is a problem with the CCTV itself, it has to go up to a high place. We developed the drone for the first time, reflecting the customer's need to manage the process in real time rather than going directly to the site."
<CEO Lee Il-woo is constantly investing in research and development, with 70% of his employees being researchers.>
Preoccupy the market with bold action.
Seven years later, things have changed completely. Through continuous development of technologies, USIS has established itself as a small business that boasts outstanding technology in drone field. There are more than 50 intellectual property rights, including 23 patent registrations at home and abroad, as well as applications and practical proposals. There are more than 4,000 drone-related companies across the country, of which USIS is considered one of the top three in terms of technology as well as size.
In particular, MiDAS, a drone autonomous flight software developed by itself, obtained the first grade of GS (Good Software) by the Korea Information and Communication Technology Association for the first time in the field and proved its technical skills. In a similar concept to the self-driving system of automobiles, drones equipped with MiDAS fly by themselves, carry out missions, and return to their places. Taking a step further, it has developed a station where drones automatically rise and fall and is preparing for commercialization. It is a facility that can operate drones unmanned in remote places such as islands and remote areas, and when drones land, they automatically charge batteries quickly and store them in hangars ready for dispatch. For the past two years, Samsung Electronics has even completed a demonstration test as part of 'Drone Regulatory Sandbox Project' in Jeju Island.
Lee, who has been constantly making new attempts, strongly felt the need for his own brand to dominate the market. With Chinese products accounting for 80% of the global drone market, what he paid attention to was customized drones that were put into special situations. Since the Taebaek series was developed for transportation of Korea's first marine products, about 20 types have been developed and specially manufactured to meet various missions such as real-time environmental pollution measurement and analysis, early firefighting and on-site support. Recently, Samsung Electronics has also won orders for large drone businesses in recognition of its technical skills in the defense sector. It delivered a surveillance and reconnaissance drone system in December, and will be the first Navy to be deployed in action.
<USIS is a strong player in both hardware and software in the special purpose drone market. In the early days, it accumulated hardware technology through outsourcing and collaboration.>
"Like the Ulsan apartment fire that broke out last year, what we need is a drone when there is a big fire in a high-rise apartment or building that fire trucks cannot immediately access. Currently, fire drones fly to the base when a fire breaks out in a forest fire or outdoor area and drop fire bombs into freefall, which requires one step further. If products that can be loaded with flare for night-time suppression or fire bullets after breaking tempered glass in high-rise buildings are commercialized, many lives can be saved efficiently."
Representative Lee reiterates that it is a special purpose drone that has great utility in places where people cannot access or access, such as fire drones. He added that for the development of the domestic drone industry and the preoccupation of the global market, it is necessary to minimize negative regulations for each type.
USIS is currently developing industrial drones that interact with large manufacturing industries such as shipyards and petrochemicals located in the region and carry out missions such as high-painting work and facility safety management. In addition, CEO Lee will apply industrial IoT technology based on UNIBA, an IoT platform with good scalability, to provide optimized solutions in the 4th industrial era.
"We're looking forward to this year more than ever. Due to the high marketability and high demand in the drone sector, construction of the second plant will be started in the first half of the year. We are planning to accelerate the development of markets by signing MOUs to enter overseas markets such as the U.S., Europe, and Southeast Asia. We will develop technologies that are essential to people, businesses, and society as we have progressed with constant efforts and grow together with the region."
CEO Lee, who shared his vision with talented people who can prepare for the future and announced his goal of listing within the next three years. I hope this year will be the first year to stand out as a global small and medium-sized company.
<USIS has developed a drone station where drones automatically come up and down after completing a demonstration test in Jeju Island for the past two years. It is preparing for commercialization.>
Written by Lee Gye-sun | Photo by Park Myung-rae
<Business Country January 2021>