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It was 7:30 a.m. on Christmas Eve when Cha Jung-hoon, South Korea’s deputy minister for small businesses, got a call from his boss to make an urgent three-hour car trip to visit syringe-maker Poonglim Pharmatech.

The brief: Work out how the government could convince and aid Poonglim, which had only about 80 employees, to rapidly scale up production of their low dead space (LDS) syringes, a type of syringe designed to minimize the amount of a drug left in the device after injection.

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