‘KARI, NASA discuss moon satellite launch’

Korea could launch a satellite to orbit the moon in collaboration with the U.S.’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration. A Korean daily reported Thursday that the Korea Aerospace Research Institute and NASA are discussing a collaborative lunar exploration project. According to the report, KARI and NASA held two rounds of talks with government officials in attendance last year, and plan to sign an agreement in March or April.

The report quoted NASA’s Belgacem Jaroux as saying that the two organizations plan to begin the project as soon as possible. According to the report, the project will involve two or three miniature satellites and require about $50 million. “It is true that talks are on the way, but whether or not the project will go ahead can only be decided once a budget has been assigned,” a KARI official said.

For full article see Korea Herald.

Brain Pool System for consultancy services for SMEs’ key to globalization

One of the biggest barriers for Korean SMEs is the shortage of a highly-skilled workforce in the technological areas. While capital for technological development and new investment is critical, the core brain that plans and leads businesses is the key to corporate success. UNITEF is the convergence 6,000 active associates where 3,500 university professors are mentors and 2,500 corporate members are mentees. Professors specializing in diverse areas and from various localities formed a brain pool system to systemically support the fields of technology, information, and workforce to improve the technological capacity of SME’s through cooperation and exchange between universities and companies.

Dr. Cho Young-im, Chairwoman of the UNITEF explained, “Our role is to help SME’s by securing a brain pool of experts, forming epistemic communities by networking, and analyzing technological barriers.”

UNITEF is one of the agencies promoting industry-academia cooperation under the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. In 1996, professors from all over the country came together spontaneously and established UNITEF to advance technologies and global competitiveness of SME’s. Korea’s Industry-Academia Cooperation was first introduced in 2000 based on the example led by Stanford University. But it was the UNITEF’s commencement that expanded and upgraded the support individually provided by each university to the national level. Currently, more than 90% of universities inKorearun a division for industry-academia cooperation.

For full article see Korea IT Times.

MEST pushes for “Brain Return 500 Project” to attract young talents from abroad

The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) is actively pushing for the “Brain Return 500 Project” to attract young talents from abroad to the domestic science belt, a top official of the ministry said.

Noting that the ministry plans to actively foster science belt as the nation’s basic study stronghold this year, Minister of Education, Science and Technology Lee Ju-ho said, “The ministry projects to attract some 500 talents from abroad, including globally distinguished scientists and scholars, to Korea Basic Science Institute by 2017.”

Minister Lee said that the government will fully support research centers and universities to help them achieve an advanced study system by guaranteeing autonomy of study teams, introduction of open-type manpower system and encouraging innovative operation of basic science.

Commenting that the ministry has set the “realization of advanced top-tier country through fostering of talents” as the 2012 policy goal, Lee said, “The ministry will place focus on building an advanced study development system based on harmony and creation, while establishing a firm foothold of major education reform policies it has so far propelled.

For full article see Korea IT Times.

Smartphone film fest gears up for another year of breaking barriers

A still from the U.S. smartphone film “Sharkoon”

When the first smartphone film festival was organized in Seoul two years ago, making a short film with the gadget was considered a fun gig for most filmmakers. Director Lee Joon-ik even jokingly said that he had signed up for the festival just to get the latest iPhone from KT, the festival organizer and the first company to bring the device to the local market in 2009.

“I appeared in a smartphone film because I thought I’d win an iPhone,” director Lee Joon-ik told reporters during the first iPhone film festival in 2010. The festival challenged 12 renowned Korean filmmakers and cameramen to make short films with the gadget. The film about Lee was made by cameraman Jeong Jeong-hun, who bet the restless director that he couldn’t sit in a room and do nothing all day. The prize was one of the phones.

Since then, the festival, re-branded last February as the Olleh Lotte Smartphone International Film Festival, has blurred the lines between professional filmmakers, rising amateurs and home movie hobbyists.

For full article see Joongang Daily.

Another TV battle looming: Smart TV vs. 3D

LG Electronics’ latest 3D Cinema Smart TV. Source Korea Times.

The war in the TV market between Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics is expected to be fiercer than ever this year.

LG Electronics released a new model this month, around a month earlier than usual. It used to sell the previous year’s models at the beginning of the year, but this time seems to be an exception. As Samsung Electronics is also releasing new smart TVs from February, the all-out war over the latest products is soon to intensify.

The TV market has some events that the companies shouldn’t miss out on. The London Olympics this summer, often a motivation for households to buy new sets, and the halt of analogue broadcasting, which means people will need digital TVs, are expected to boost the local TV market to around 2.8 million sets this year from 2.3 million last year.

For full article see Korea Times.

Drug makers bet on novel products to tackle difficulties

Source: Korea Herald.

Soaring research costs, rampant illicit rebates and a gushing inflow of multinational drug giants following free trade pacts have come together to ignite the biggest crisis in years in Korea’s pharmaceutical industry. Heaping further pressure is the government’s push to slash drug prices and its sweeping crackdown on unfair trade practices, as well as economic uncertainties stemming from Europe.

To tackle the daunting challenges, local drug makers crafted a two-pronged strategy this year: Bet big on research and development, and jump on the biomedicine bandwagon. Generic manufacturing has long been a major source of revenue for most Korean pharmaceutical firms. That heavy reliance and their weak overseas presence caused them to shirk from drug development as it costs huge amounts of time and money with no assurance of success.

Reckoning the need for long-term growth strategies, however, a surging number of companies are stepping up efforts to reinforce their pipelines eyeing international markets.

Dong-A Pharmaceutical, the industry frontrunner, aims to make global inroads this year by cultivating novel products and raising exports to half of its sales. Green Cross, a leading vaccine producer, will notch up its R&D spending to 10 percent of revenue from 7 to 8 percent. It set a goal of posting 2 trillion won ($1.76 billion) each in domestic and overseas sales by 2020.

For full article see Korea Herald.

Mobile carriers race to grab bigger slice of LTE market

South Korea’s top mobile carrier SK Telecom Co. and other industry players are ramping up efforts to claim a bigger share of the fast growing long-term evolution (LTE) market deemed a future money spinner, market watchers say. The LTE service, or the fourth-generation (4G) of wireless technology, enables smartphone users to access a stream of data faster than the current 3G network and download and watch movies more quickly.

In a country where four out of 10 people use smartphones, SK Telecom and two other carriers — KT Corp. and LG Uplus Corp. — are rushing to satisfy data-hungry users, betting that the new service will help them continue to turn a profit in the already saturated wireless market. “Offering the LTE service can be likened to expanding a congested road to make traffic flow more smoothly,” said Kim Jang-won, a senior analyst at IBK Securities Co. 

The LTE service kicked off in July last year in South Korea, led by SK Telecom, which controls about half of the local mobile market, and LG Uplus, the country’s smallest mobile operator.

For full article see Yonhap News.

Korea to establish ‘Green Technology Center’ to speed up green growth

South Korea will establish a new think tank that oversees the country’s “green growth” drive aimed at seeking economic growth by boosting environment-friendly technologies and industries, a presidential committee said Thursday.

The “Green Technology Center,” set to launch in March, will coordinate and support green growth policies of related ministries and agencies and help boost cooperation between research centers home and abroad, the Presidential Committee on Green Growth said. The committee was to report the center’s establishment to President Lee Myung-bak on Thursday.

A task force comprising the top researchers at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and the Korea Institute of Energy Research has been working on the establishment, it said.

For full article see Yonhap News.

Samsung bids Sony adieu, finds new chip partner

Shortly after Samsung Electronics announced it is parting ways with Sony in their joint venture in LCD (liquid-crystal display) panels, the company announced that it will set up a new venture in nonmemory chips with companies including NTT DoCoMo, Fujitsu, Fujitsu Semiconductor, NEC and Panasonic.

Technology critics closely monitor every move by Samsung, the world’s largest maker of flat-screen TVs, LCD panels and memory chips. And many see the new venture as indicative of changing trends in the IT industry.

In the realm of panels, LCD prices have been falling consistently, fueling speculation that OLED (organic LED) TVs will replace LCD screens in the near future. Meanwhile, DRAM memory chips have become less lucrative, while nonmemory chips for smartphones are thought to yield greater profits.

Panels and chips have been the two main pillars of Samsung’s parts and components business, with Apple, Sony and of course itself ranking among its top clients.

For full article see Joongang Daily.

Koreans offer first step toward Dr. Smartphone

Tired of long waits at the hospital for medical tests? If Korean researchers have their way, your smartphone could one day eliminate that – and perhaps even tell you that you have cancer.A team of scientists at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science of Technology (Kaist) said in a paper published in Angewandte Chemie, a German science journal, that touch-screen technology can be used to detect biomolecular matter.

“It began from the idea that touch screens work by recognizing the electronic signs from the touch of the finger, and so the presence of specific proteins and DNA should be recognizable as well,” said Park Hyun-gyu, who with Won Byong-yeon led the study.

The touch screens on smartphones and tablet computers work by sensing the electronic charges from the user’s body on the screen. Biochemicals such as proteins and DNA molecules also carry specific electronic charges. According to Kaist, the team’s experiments showed that touch screens can recognize the existence and the concentration of DNA molecules placed on them, a first step toward one day being able to use the screens to carry out medical tests.

For full article see Joongang Daily.