When President Park Geun-hye introduced her creative economy policy during the election campaign late last year, most people were bewildered by the relatively new concept. The policy’s key points included promoting convergent IT and software technologies, scientific discoveries and technology integrating with cultural content for sustainable economic growth.
“We must lead Korea’s mid- to long-term growth based on knowledge (in science and technology),” Park said when announcing her plan to create the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, the control tower for the president’s creative economy initiative.
The emphasis on science and technology in the key economic policies of Korean presidents is nothing new, but science and technology or even technological convergence had been overlooked by the former administration of Lee Myung-bak, whose knowledge economy efforts were focused more on facilitating a business-friendly environment for conglomerates.
The concept of a creative economy was just as confusing as a knowledge economy, or even Park’s economic democratization pledge.
South Korea will sharply increase its investment in science and technology setting a 92.4 trillion won ($80 billion) budget to finance research and development projects in new growth sectors by 2017, the government announced on Monday. The plan represents a more-than 30 percent increase from the previous Lee Myung-bak administration’s five-year budget of 68 trillion won.
As part of the five-year science and technology development project, the budget will be allocated to enhancing agricultural and medical technology as well as supporting basic science research. The government said it believed the investment would help elevate the level of science and technology research and help create some 640,000 new jobs.
South Korea’s ministry in charge of science, information and technology said Thursday that it will create jobs by fostering an environment for business start-ups and bringing the country’s scientific research close to a world-class level.
In a briefing on 2013 policy plans to President Park Geun-hye, the Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning said it will launch a government-wide project under which social issues such as food safety and environmental accidents could be resolved through scientific technology. “In order to create an environment for business start-ups, the ministry will extend support and strengthen policy coordination with related agencies,” the ministry said. “The ministry will launch a project to create 10 new industries by 2017 through combination of science, ICT and culture.”
Under the ministry’s plan, a total of 408,000 new jobs will be created by 2017, about 90,000 of which are to come from business start-ups.
Chinese products have been shedding their image of being cheaply made with poor technology. China has already outpaced South Korea in terms of science and technology, which determine the overall quality of products manufactured in a nation, according to an analysis by a local think tank.
“China has rapidly gained scientific technological competitiveness enough to overwhelm Korea in absolute terms,” said a researcher at Hyundai Research Institute (HRI) in the report released Sunday. China’s investment in research and development (R&D) totaled $104.3 billion in 2010, triple that of Korea ($38.0 billion). China’s investment in R&D has soared 24 percent on average per year, a pace three times faster than that of Korea.
China submitted 390,000 patent applications, twice 170,000 applications of Korea, and academic papers listed on the Science Citation Index (SCI) numbered 140,000 articles, four times 40,000 of Korea. China had a total of 1.21 million researchers, fivefold 260,000 of Korea.
The South Korean government will spend nearly 2.2 trillion won ($2.08 billion) on research and development (R&D) activities this year, with a nearly half of its entire budget earmarked for basic science, the government said Monday. The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) will spend a total of 2.19 trillion won on R&D this year, up 6.4 percent from 2012. Of these, 993.1 billion won will be spent on the development of basic science with another 469.1 billion won earmarked for the development of new, indigenous technologies.
The government will also spend some 266.2 billion won on its nuclear power research program, 202.3 billion won on research of nuclear fusion and accelerator, 167.3 billion won on space development and 93.5 billion won on global introduction of its science and technologies. The money earmarked for the development of basic science increased 1.9 percent from a year ago.
President-elect Park Geun-hye is looking to enhance the country’s science and technology competitiveness with the establishment of a powerful new ministry that will oversee research and development policies and industrialization of innovations. But it seems Park is already facing a major obstacle with the delay of a project to build a mega science and business complex that promised to house world-class basic science research organizations and related business facilities.
The government is planning to complete the International Science and Business Belt by 2017 in a 3.6-square-kilometer area of Daejeon. To make the mega project more prosperous, the government is also planning to bring in some 500 foreign experts by the end of 2017.
The plan, however, faces an uncertain future due to political wrangling among the central and local governments and ruling and opposition parties. The National Assembly failed to allocate the budget for the project as the central government and Daejeon city differed over how to share the expenditures. The government pledged to invest a total of $4.9 billion into the complex, calling on the Daejeon Metropolitan Government to pay its half of the bill. But the city refused the demand, claiming it was a national-level project.
The three major presidential candidates may differ on key policies but all believe that Korea’s future depends on science and technology for growth. Their policies in the field converge in many aspects, including plans to revive the ministry for science and technology, as well as increasing support for research and innovation.
The Saenuri Party’s Park Geun-hye has the most extensive agenda. An engineering graduate, she prioritizes developing the software industry, supporting start-ups and establishing the Creative Science Ministry. “We must lead Korea’s mid- to long-term growth based on knowledge (of science and technology),” she said on Oct. 17 when announcing the camp’s science and technology policy in Yeouido.
The Democratic United Party’s Moon Jae-in, a former human rights lawyer, suggested reviving the late President Roh Moo-hyun’s science policy with the potential science minister also holding the title of deputy prime minister. Roh had set up a science innovation unit under the wing of the science ministry. “Without science and technology development, there would also be no job creation,” Moon told the science community last month.
Cancer patients are exposed to potentially harmful radiation during CT (computerized tomography) scans and other X-ray procedures, as well as invasive tests using radioactive isotopes.
That may change if the Korea Communications Commission’s (KCC) plans to back Korean technology aimed at providing a new method of cancer diagnosis succeeds.
The KCC affiliated Electronic and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) is behind experiments using electromagnetic waves in the 3-gigaherz spectrum to detect breast cancer, one of the six cancers that Koreans are most prone.
Clinical trials have been approved by the Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) with a view to commercialization by 2017.
Detectors spot the difference in the electrical response time of healthy cells and cancerous ones using a technique dubbed “micro-wave” tomography.
South Korea’s financial regulator said Thursday that a new stock market dedicated to small and medium-sized enterprises would open by the end of this year, offering greater direct financing opportunities to promising startups.
The Financial Services Commission said it will accelerate steps to launch the new market, temporarily named “Korea New Exchange,” by working out listing conditions and public disclosure rules.
The domestic stock market is made up of the main bourse, KOSPI, for blue-chip shares and the junior KOSDAQ with its focus placed on tech-oriented companies.
The envisioned new market will help startups to tap into fresh funding sources, mainly institutional investors keen to discover companies with unique market positions and technologies.
Heavy backpacks full of books strain students’ shoulders and symbolize their plight. But maybe not for much longer as digital textbooks become the norm.
Apple, the global leader in IT innovation, has jumped into the digital textbooks market, launching iBooks 2 in January. Unlike their simple predecessors, the new software supports diverse interaction with the users.
Not to be outdone, Samsung Electronics is as ever ready to duel with its Learning Hub, an educational content service through which around 6,000 exercises for all age groups will be provided. Users can download the service on their tablets.
“Digital textbooks mean more than converting textbooks into a digital format,” said Jung Kwang-hun, a researcher at the Korea Education and Research Information Service, in a report.