S. Korea’s R&D spending tops $17.5 bn to foster future growth industries

2019.03.15 09:32:08 | 2019.03.15 09:33:39

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The South Korean government’s spending on research & development (R&D) for this year tops 20 trillion won ($17.6 billion) for the first time that will be mostly used to foster new growth industries based on more innovative and disruptive technologies.

The Ministry of Science and ICT on Thursday unveiled a plan for government R&D and investment direction for 2020 that aims to expand scientific technology capacity, improve economic vitality, and realize happy life. It announced it will spend 20.5 trillion won on R&D this year, the biggest-ever budget allocated on R&D in the country.

As part of efforts to enhance overall scientific technology capability, the government will expand budget on researcher-led basic research from 1.26 trillion won in 2017 to 1.71 trillion won this year and 2.52 trillion won in 2022. It will also increase its budget allocated to small- and mid-size enterprises to enhance their R&D capacity from 1.7 trillion won this year to 2.1 trillion won in 2022. The government will also allow companies to share state research equipment when engaged in national R&D projects.

When it comes to vitalizing the economy, the government will continue to invest in R&D on fourth industrial revolution-focused technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data, and intelligent sensor. More government support will be given to sectors leading innovative growth such as drones, future vehicles, smart farm, smart city, smart factory, bio health, and financial technology industries.

To ensure happy life of the public, the government will expand R&D expenditures on natural disaster prevention, safety and studies to prepare for the aging society. The government will continue its research to counter climate and environment changes such as on new renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction while also providing support to reduce fine dust and develop related management technology.

The ICT ministry has added two more areas – artificial intelligence and new renewable energy – to the list of sectors that can receive comprehensive government support in terms of technology, nurturing workforce, system, and policy next year.

The government introduced a package R&D investment platform this year to more efficiently plan and manage R&D projects instead of simply allocating budget. Currently, eight sectors – autonomous vehicle, precision medicine, fine dust, high-functioning unnamed air vehicle, intelligent robots, smart city, smart grid, and smart farm – are benefitting from the platform.

By Seo Jin-woo and Lee Eun-joo

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