Jonghwa Won of startup ‘Foresys’ on his passion for keeping the ocean clean and beautiful

Korean startup Foresys Co., Ltd. is eager to keep the oceans clean and safe with their innovative engineering skills and know-how. The company has been developing a floating barrier system that captures floating debris and remove them from the ocean. Not only developing such system, Foresys offers various engineering services as well in Civil, Offshore & Marine industry. spoke to the CEO of the company, Jonghwa Won, about their company and vision

1. How did you decide to launch this startup?

Growing up and spending most of my youth in Tongyeong, South Korea, which is famous for its beautiful beaches, I naturally fell in love with the ocean. After achieving my Ph.D. degree, it was like a natural next step to get a job as a research engineer at Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME). It was more than a pleasure that I could have many opportunities to be working closer to the ocean while working at DSME. However, at the same time, it was very unbearable for me to see the ocean has been suffering from what human-being are doing for their own benefits. So I started to think about what I could do for the ocean whilst making use of my engineering skills and expertise. This is why I started the startup and gather people to work together to keep our ocean clean and beautiful

2. Can you talk about your product?

Our first product is the floating barrier system to collect ocean debris, which can be deployed in both nearshore and offshore as well as estuaries and rivers. One of the main goals is to prevent the macro-sized debris from the land flowing further into the ocean, so not being degraded to microplastics. Another is to protect beaches losing their own beauty from marine litters – the government spends a massive amount of budget every year to clean up the debris at the beaches and this is mainly due to inefficient collecting method (i.e. picking them up by hands). Our barrier system would be able to help to reduce this budget dramatically – Not only collecting and removing the ocean debris, the system with integrated Oscillating Water Column Wave Energy Convertor (OWC WEC) would be self-powered and be able to do monitoring on structural integrity of the barrier, waste(floating debris) and environment conditions as well.

3. Have you tested the product?

With our team’s efforts and endless supports from other interested parties, we were able to get our first prototype model-tested at one of the leading research institutes, ‘Korea Research Institute of Ships & Ocean Engineering (KRISO)’. It was found that the system worked well in a quite severe condition, capturing more than 80% of replicated debris used during the tests.

4. How is your service unique?

The problem with the existing products, or the products that had been deployed in South Korea shore region, was its vulnerability in robustness to withstand the environmental conditions; Most of them were broken so became dysfunctional, or the worst case, they floated away into the ocean like other marine litters. So, I may say that our uniqueness is coming from numerical analysis and model testing of the products to make sure its robustness so they would perfectly be operating in expected weather conditions of the target locations. Like aforementioned, the prototype we tested this year showed a great capture efficiency. We are the only company ready for offering this service in South Korea.

5. What about funding for the company and are you looking for more investment?

In the last two and a half years since our establishment in 2017, we have been granted funding from the Korean governments, and thanks to the governments, our first prototype is ready for a pilot test. Now we are in contact with private investors to raise more funding for the pilot test.

6. What is the future plan for Foresys?

The next step is to successfully deploy our first barrier system in the Korean shore region. After that, hopefully, in the very near future, we’d like to extend our products range to various applications such as floating fish farms, jelly-fish protection barrier, oil spill control and so on. Added to that, our company initiated a collaborative project to further develop our barrier system with an Australian research partner, Center for Offshore Foundation Systems (COFS). While collaborating with COFS, we will be looking forward to a business opportunity in overseas as the ocean debris is a global issue.

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