Co-creator of spam blocking app wins presidential innovation award

09/01/2020 07:42 PM
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From left to right: Superintendent of Taipei City Hospital Huang Sheng-jean, President Tsai Ing-wen, TDRI Chairman Chang Chi-yi, and Gogolook co-founder Jeff Kuo/ Photo courtesy of the Presidential Office
From left to right: Superintendent of Taipei City Hospital Huang Sheng-jean, President Tsai Ing-wen, TDRI Chairman Chang Chi-yi, and Gogolook co-founder Jeff Kuo/ Photo courtesy of the Presidential Office

Taipei, Sept. 1 (CNA) The co-creator of the spam blocking app Whoscall was among the winners of the 4th Presidential Innovation Awards, presented on Tuesday by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文).

The awards, which are given every two years, honors those who have made outstanding achievements in the fields of product development, culture, services and technology, and who have made specific contributions to Taiwan's economy.

Winners in both the group and individual categories are awarded NT$2 million (US$67,560) per group or individual.

This year, co-founder of app development company Gogolook Jeff Kuo (郭建甫) won the youth category, which is awarded to innovators aged under 40.

Gogolook is the company behind Whoscall, an app that helps people avoid spam and scam calls through instant caller identification. Since its launch, the app has been downloaded over 80 million times.

Kuo had the idea for creating Whoscall after almost being scammed himself, he told CNA. He said he once received a call from a person claiming to be from the Hong Kong Jockey Club, who told him to wire money to an account so that he could win a prize.

Photo from facebook.com/WhosCall.Taiwan
Photo from facebook.com/WhosCall.Taiwan

Moments before he was about to transfer the money, he decided to search on the internet first and found that it was a scam, which led him to the idea of creating an app that screens such calls, he said.

Kuo said he plans to use the prize money to fund "dozens of ideas" at his company, so as to maximize the award's impact.

Another winner this year was Huang Sheng-jean (黃勝堅), the superintendent of Taipei City Hospital and a proponent of home palliative care in Taiwan.

This type of care allows patients with terminal illnesses to spend their final months at home with their families, and could save Taiwan billions in healthcare costs if widely adopted, according to the Presidential Innovation Award Committee.

The group category this year went to the Taiwan Design Research Institute (TDRI), whose design fairs and collaborations with international design associations have helped promote Taiwanese design globally, the committee said.

Speaking at the award ceremony, Tsai said that in the midst of the economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, continuous innovation is key to remaining competitive.

"Innovation must be applied to every sector to fuel and accelerate economic growth," Tsai said.

Globally, Taiwan's originality is widely recognized, as evidenced by Taiwan placing fourth in Innovation Capability in the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report for two consecutive years, Tsai added.

(By Liang Pei-chi and Chiang Yi-ching)

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