LG opens 29,000 patents…raising USD 150 million venture fund

2015_02_LG innovation centerTo create the creative economy ecosystem in Chungcheongbuk-do, LG will open 29,000 patents and raise a venture fund to the tune of KRW150 billion. Also, LG affiliates, including LG Chem, will invest KRW1,600 billion over a 3-year period to invigorate the local creative economy.

The LG Group announced this plan at the launching ceremony for the Chungcheongbuk-do Creative Economy Innovation Center held at the Chungcheongbuk-do Knowledge Industry Promotion Agency in Ochang, Chungcheongbuk-do on February 4. President Park Geun-hye, Lee Si-jong governor of Chungcheongbuk-do, Koo Bon-moo chairman of LG and the CEOs of over 140 local small and medium-sized venture firms were present at this ceremony.

LG will install the ‘IP Support Zone’ which shares patents with local small and medium-sized venture firms. Here about 29,000 patents, including the 27,000 patents owned by LG and the 1,600 patents of 16 government-funded research institutions, will be opened for free or at minimal costs. Among them, 3,058 patents will be transferred to small and medium-sized venture firms free of charge. The patent areas include bio, beauty and energy, earmarked for the Chungcheongbuk-do area, as well as electronics, chemistry and communication.

For full article, see Korea IT News.

New plant compounds become pest control

2015_01_mosquito_1
Pictured (left) is the ovarium of a normal mosquito. Pictured (center, right) are abnormally developed ovaria due to changes in the JHAs.

A team of researchers has identified plant compounds that can kill targeted pests, leaving the rest of the plant unharmed. Comprised of Dr. Oh Hyun-woo of the Korea Research Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology (KRIBB) and Professors Sim Sang-wun and Je Yun-ho of Seoul National University, the research team identified plant compounds that can serve as a Juvenile Hormone Antagonists (JHA). They succeeded in isolating such substances from plants and this is expected to lead to the development of insecticides that are safe for both humans and the environment.

The juvenile hormone controls an insects’ metamorphosis, the process of emerging from an egg and shedding its skin on a regular basis. It also controls reproduction in female adults. Controlling the JHAs interrupt hormone activation and prevent insects from going through a normal metamorphosis and reproducing normally. Previously, this type of research was done by observing abnormal developments and deaths in targeted cells and insects. This time, however, the new technology used a “yeast/ two-hybrid” system to transform the mosquito’s junior hormone receptor. This made it easier to see whether or not the JHAs can affect the receptor. Also, using this process allowed the scientists to save both time and money.

For full article, see Korea.net.

Agriculture ministry develops plan for fostering R&D

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said Monday it developed a mid to long-term research and development (R&D) plan to foster technologies in the agriculture and food sector. The plan aims to increase value-added effects three percent a year and help South Korea export agricultural products worth $15 billion by 2022.

The ministry selected four major areas for investment in response to the criticism that previously it made small R&D investments scattering across too many areas. The four major areas are: enhancing global competitiveness; creating new growth engine; stable food supply, and; strengthening public happiness. The agricultural ministry designated 50 core technologies that would help tackle key issues that affect the public on the ground and achieve agricultural industry’s goals.

To invest in the 50 technologies, the ministry intends to switch from the prior small-scale investments worth one billion won ($869,975) each, covering an extensive spectrum, to large investments worth 10 billion won each focused on several areas.

For full article, see Maeil Business.

Korea and Netherlands agree to cooperate in agro sector

Korea has agreed with the Netherlands to cooperate in agriculture, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said Thursday.  Agriculture Minister Lee Dong-phil signed a memorandum of understanding with his Dutch counterpart Sharon Dijksma to enhance exchanges and cooperation in agricultural policies, the ministry said.

When it comes to agriculture policy, the Netherlands, the second largest exporter of agricultural and food products in the world after the U.S., has been a benchmark nation for Korea in that the country has advanced competitiveness in the agriculture sector, overcoming disadvantageous conditions for agro-businesses due in part to small land size. The ministry said the two governments will develop co-projects not only in policy but also in research and development activities. Combining the nation’s advanced information and technology with the agricultural sector is one of top policy priorities of the ministry.

Source: Korea Herald.

Researchers find safer saltiness in plain soy sauce

The Korea Food Research Institute (KFRI) said yesterday it has found a natural substance that makes food taste salty without ill health effects. And they found it in traditional Korean soy sauce.

A research team under professor Ryu Mi-ra said it has find a substance in soy sauce that tastes salty without high sodium levels. It got stronger the longer the soy sauce was fermented. Sodium exacerbates health problems such as high blood pressure.

The team said there are two ways people taste saltiness. One is through sodium and the other is through positive ions. The substance extracted from the soy sauce has some sodium but also positive ions. “We provided one group of mice with water with a salt concentration of 100 millimoles and another with 100 millimoles of salt and 0.25 percent of the substance extracted from soy sauce,” said Kim Bo-kyung, at research fellow at KFRI.

For full article, see Joongang Daily.

Steel industry bets on business diversification

The nation’s major steelmakers are diversifying into non-core businesses such as energy, construction and agriculture to shore up falling profits.

POSCO, the world’s fourth-largest steelmaker by output, has cut its number of subsidiaries to 46 from 70 as of Jan., 1 mainly by merging those with overlapping businesses, the company said in a press release. The number of POSCO’s affiliates surged after takeover deals for the past few years, including Daewoo International, a trading company specializing in oil and gas exploration overseas, in 2011.

“On the group level, POSCO has driven in-house reorganization since March last year under the three principles of strengthening core businesses, trimming overlapped businesses and closing non-core businesses without cutting personnel,” a company official said. The steel giant will wrap up the reorganization by the end of this year and the number of its subsidiaries is expected to be cut to 30. “The POSCO streamlining came amid diversification of its business portfolio into non-steel sectors,” Byun Jong-man, an analyst from Woori Investment and Securities, said.

Fr full article see Korea Herald.

Agriculture is the Science

 “IT powerhouse Korea has been developing new technology to produce safe food products by grafting its cutting-edge agricultural technology with state-of-the-art IT,” a top official of National Academy of Agricultural Science (NAAS) of Rural Development Administration said. Noting that Korea’s agricultural technology ranks fifth in the world, following the U.S., EU, Japan and Canada, Seung-yong Ra, president of NAAS, said, “In particular, Korea’s technology to produce rice, cabbage, red pepper, and garlic is the best in the world. For instance, the Japanese regard Korean-produced rice as the best in the world.”

In an interview with Korea IT Times, President Ra said, “NAAS established its 15th overseas agricultural technology development center, called Korean Project of International Agriculture (KOPIA), in Thailand early this year to spread Korea’s advanced agricultural technology to developing countries in Southeast Asia and Africa.” “For instance, Korean scientists in the King Sejong Station in Antarctic are eating fresh vegetables that they grew in a container-type plant factory, which we call Vertical fame, sent by RDA. Korea boasts of its top-class agricultural technology to grow plants in Antarctic, where the average temperature is minus 55 degrees Celsius,” he explained.

Commenting that Korea’s top-notch agricultural technology is generated from IT, he said, “NAAS is seeking a project combining Korea’s advanced agricultural technology and its top-level IT technology to guarantee the safe supply of foods in a rapidly changing climate environment.”

For full article, see Korea IT Times.

`Agriculture as growth engine’

Korea should foster its agricultural and fisheries industries as twin parts of a new growth engine over the next decade by boosting food exports and globalizing “hansik,’’ Korean cuisine, according to the country’s top agricultural policymaker.

In an interview with The Korea Times, Suh Kyu-yong, minister for food, agriculture, forestry and fisheries, said the future of the nation’s agricultural, livestock and fisheries sectors is bright, projecting Korea will soon be competing with other agricultural powerhouses.

“The international crops, livestock and fisheries market stood at $5.8 trillion in 2010, larger than the combined revenue accrued from both the information technology and automobile sectors. It will continue to expand in the future in line with world population growth. It is important for Korea to secure larger shares in this rapidly growing industry,’’ Suh said.

The minister said opening up the domestic agricultural market to foreign competition presents farmers here with both risks and opportunities. `When we open our door, foreign countries have to do the same. This provides local farmers with access to new markets. The government will do everything it can to help modernize agricultural infrastructure and nurture a new generation of farmers.’’

For full article, see Korea Times.

SW industry develops the core technology of vertical farming

Since Professor Dickson Donald Despommie of the Public Health and Environmental Health Sciences Department at Columbia University established the concept of Vertical Farming, it has emerged as an alternative solution to food and farmland shortages. In 2009, he presented a blueprint saying that “a 30-story building can provide food for 50,000 people” when he attended an academic event in South Korea.

South Korea, taking advantage of it strengths in IT, BT, ET technologies, is stepping up its efforts to develop this area.

At a time where food self-sufficiency is on the decline every year in Korea, it is no surprise to see high expectations for Vertical Farming. For that reason, the Korean government considers it an alternative solution to addressing food shortages in the future, and is subsequently providing more investments in the area.

In 2009, the Rural Development Administration, in collaboration with Marine Research Institute developed and dispatched the Vertical Farm to the King Sejong Antarctic Station. It was Korea’s first government sponsored vertical farm. In 2011, the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (Seodun-dong, Kwonsun-gu, Suwon-city, Gyeonggi-do) under the Rural Development set up a vertical farm in a total floor area of 396 ㎡ designed for research.

For full article, see Korea IT Times.