S. Korea launches tournament to tackle tough industry challenges

2019.06.18 15:04:57

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The South Korean government has set out to solve some of the toughest technology challenges facing the industry today through a tournament-style funding scheme.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on Tuesday revealed a public funding program dubbed Alchemist Project in order to seek viable solutions to 17 tech challenges by stimulating competition.

The Alchemist Project is one of President Moon Jae-in’s ambitious policies to drive innovation and promote new technologies.

One of the potential projects is to develop an electric car that can be fully recharged in less than five minutes and run more than 600 kilometers on a single charge. Another is a robot suit that enables the wearer to complete a 100-meter run in seven seconds. Other challenges include a solar panel that can overcome the maximum silicon cell efficiency of 31 percent and a heat pump that operates at the maximum Carnot efficiency to cut power consumption by over 50 percent.

Some of the other projects on the list include cars that help reduce fine dust, electric vehicles that can share power wirelessly, human avatars that can perform complex tasks, a system to remove microplastics in the oceans, noiseless wind turbines and outdoor air purification technologies.

Based on feedback from a public hearing, the ministry will shortlist five projects by the end of June and name candidate agencies in August to carry out the selected projects. Each agency will receive 30 billion won ($25.3 million) in research funding over the next seven years.

The selection process would consist of two stages. For the first two years, the ministry will fund research teams in a tournament-style competition. And then it will provide 5 billion won per project for the next five years through milestone assessment.

By Lim Sung-hyun and Kim Hyo-jin

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