Go to contents

Lee Jae-yong, Bill Gates to work on Humanity Challenges

Posted August. 26, 2022 08:00,   

Updated August. 26, 2022 08:00


Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Chairman Bill Gates have developed a toilet that can be used without water to solve the toilet problem in underdeveloped countries. Its goal is to prevent the tragedy of typhoid and diarrhea, which kills more than 360,000 children each year in underdeveloped countries, where water and sewage treatment facilities are scarce.

Samsung Electronics announced on Thursday that it held a ceremony at the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology to close the RT (Reinvented Toilet) project, which it has been working with the Gates Foundation. The RT project is a new concept sanitary toilet supply project that the Gates Foundation has been promoting since 2011 to help underdeveloped countries. The solids generated in the toilet are processed by dehydration, drying, and burning to ashes, and the liquid is treated using a bio-purification method. The closing ceremony was attended by Jin Gyo-young, President of Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology, executives and employees participating in the RT project, and Doulaye Kone, deputy director of the Gates Foundation.

Vice Chairman Lee met with Gates on Tuesday while he was visiting Korea to share the results of RT development and to discuss global CSR. At that time, it was known that Chairman Gates explained the vision of the Gates Foundation and the current status of social contribution activities to Vice Chairman Lee, and expressed his gratitude for Samsung's dedicated efforts in the RT project. Samsung explained that Vice Chairman Lee, in return, expressed his commitment to contributing to solving the challenges facing mankind with Samsung's technologies.

The Gates Foundation, which was experiencing technical difficulties, asked Samsung for help in 2018 to develop RT for home use. During the project, Vice Chairman Lee is said to have been directly involved in the progress of the project through e-mail, phone calls, and video conferences with Chairman Gates. In the process, it is also reported that the Gates Foundation expressed its intention to provide tens of millions of dollars to Samsung Electronics for project implementation, but Vice Chairman Lee politely declined it.

"Samsung has been participating in the project since 2019 after Vice Chairman Lee expressed a strong interest in addressing global challenges using Samsung's technologies," said a business insider. "Vice Chairman Lee instructed the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology to form a task force to be in charge of RT technology development, and recently succeeded in doing so, thus a relevant technology transfer to the Gates Foundation is on the way."

Samsung achieved 100% of the recycling rate of treated water using heat treatment and biotechnology within three years of starting design, development of parts and module technology, and prototype development for mass production. Samsung's success in RT development is expected to improve the quality of life for billions of people, including countries with insufficient sewage facilities.

Some in and outside the business circle believe that this project may signal the full-fledged attempt of Samsung at engaging global CSR activities for the betterment of mankind in addition to its existing manufacturing service business. There are observers who think that the technology-oriented management of Vice Chairman Lee, who has emphasized the importance of securing ‘innovative technologies’ earlier than others, will continue for the time being, because Samsung technologies have led to the success of RT development. It is expected that Vice Chairman Lee will start rebuilding the global network following the meeting with Chairman Gates.

Choong-Hyun Song balgun@donga.com