How do You Spell Innovation? Ask LG NOVA

Jul 18, 2022 2:00:00 PM
Published on July 17, 2022

Innovation is all around us. New business registrations hit a record high last year at 5.4 million in the USA alone. There is an entrepreneur eager to change the world behind every one of those business registrations. But competition is fierce. A great idea – even with funding – may not be enough to succeed. That’s where LG Nova enters the picture with their exceptional Mission for the Future Global Challenge program.

Grit Daily was on the scene at Collision Conference in Toronto. At the event, LG Nova revealed the future of LG. The former is the division tasked with spurring the parent company’s efforts in open innovation. On June 20, 2022, the company announced the Select 20 winners of their global challenge. Dr. Sokwoo Rhee, LG Electronics senior vice president for innovation and head of LG NOVA, is the head of the program. Rhee reports to LG’s CEO, William Cho. This organizational hierarchy underscores the significance of his role. Without executive level support, most innovation programs collapse before they even get off the ground.

“As a company, we make $65 billion in revenues, but we can’t sit on that. We recognized that we needed to make a quantum leap.” ~Dr. Rhee

Dr. Sokwoo Rhee, VP LG Nova

Innovation spans the Metaverse – Health – Energizing Mobility

Three categories were considered for investment: Connected Health, Metaverse, and Energizing Mobility. Approximately 1,400 companies applied to the solicitation posted for the Mission for the Future contest, a. Participation was global: about half the companies were from North America and the other half from Europe and Asia. Representation was reflective of the dynamic world of entrepreneurship. Although LG Nova’s challenge did not stipulate diversity as a requirement for application, the founders selected represent a broad swath across genders, age, and ethnicities.

The down-selection process was intense, highly structured, and required a large team to sift through. “Some companies fell out quickly,” said Rhee. “They were just too early in their life cycle and barely at the inception stage whereas others were clearly not interested in doing things differently.” By the time that the innovation team at LG Nova had narrowed it down to the Final 50, months had gone by. Dr. Rhee shared that each company was fully vetted through extensive conversation with his commercialization team.

The selection process

Even the losers are winners with this program. Only the Select 20 each received a cheque for $100,000, for a $2 million total investment. However, the other 30 companies remain an integral part of LG Nova’s innovation ecosystem. Dr. Rhee shared, “We’ll continue to meet with them and work together to advance new ideas; it’s an ecosystem play.” That’s a critical differentiator in their open innovation program versus others: they recognize the value of an innovation community to foster learning and growth.

Prior to launching the global challenge, Dr. Rhee traveled the globe to meet with the leaders of accelerators and some exceptional investors. As an entrepreneur himself, and an engineer, Rhee understood what founders needed and searched the world for the best ideas to bring them together into LG Nova’s open innovation program. To maximize success, Rhee assembled a corporate development team focused on M&A and Joint Ventures, a dedicated commercial team, a partnership team of success managers, and a team of engineers to work alongside the founders and their teams.

Open innovation by LG

The result is that LG Nova has created three new commercial verticals spurred by their identification and investment in the Select 20 startups. These verticals include: health, sustainable energy, and the metaverse. Rhee elaborated, “We’re building a new engineering and business development team around these external technologies.” The elite circle of winners will be mentored and sponsored by NOVA Capital Alliance. A Top 10 down-selection is on the horizon. Each winner will have the unprecedented opportunity to build their businesses together with LG. Dr. Rhee has labeled this opportunity as an “accelerated path to success.”

The Select 20 winners

Congratulations to the Selected 20 startups in LG Nova’s inaugural Mission for the Future Global Challenge. The Winners in connected health are: MayaMD, Inc., LifeNome, Mindset Medical, XRHealth, TRIPP, Inc., NeuroTrainer, and medZERO. In the metaverse category, winners include: iQ3Connect, Snickerdoodle Labs, and YBVR. Within the energizing mobility vertical, SparkCharge, Driivz , I-EMS Group, Ltd., Kardome, and Faction. Additional winners were named for their technology in smart lifestyles and innovation for impact. These include: a*kin, Digbi, and Chefling.

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