Deadeok Innopolis Intends
to Be a Global Top 5 Innovation
Capitalizing on its abundant research manpower and infrastructure
Park In-chul, president of the Agency for Daedeok Innopolis, said his agency is striving to evolve Daedeok Innopolis into a global top five innovation cluster within 10 years.
"The agency is seeking to transform Daedeok Innopolis into a greater innovation cluster by linking regional clusters. I believe that the chances are good for a high caliber science town, Daedeok, to evolve into a global top 5 cluster if a market-friendly corporation-friendly mood is successfully activated"Park said in a recent interview with NewsWorld.
President Park said, "Daedeok Science Town, with its 30 year-old history, has the potential to be innovation-oriented. Deadeok has an excellent infrastructure with a high caliber of research manpower: The town accommodates 63 research institutes -together public and private sectors - with approximately 12,000 researchers with a master's degree or above, accounting for some 10 percent of the aggregate research manpower in Korea,; about 700 companies are clustered in the town; and some 30 percent of R&D outlays are channeled into Daedeok."The town has made a considerable range of research achievements corresponding to the 30 year-old history, including Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) and wireless mobile internet WiBro, developed by Research Institution (ETRI), which have made a global impact, he said. Explaining the purpose of establishing the Agency for Daedeok Innopolis, Park said that Commercialization of such accumulated research capabilities will create new industries and new engines for growth that could lead to raising the per capita national income to $20,000 or $30,000.
Park added that his agency will make strenuous efforts to help venture and mid-level companies to complement each other in industry-academy-research institute collaboration so that world-class products can be developed with a competitive edge in global markets. To this end, he said, the agency will raise 100 billion won in a fund designed to offer a helping hand to venture companies which experience difficulties in making initial investments.
The long-term goal is to raise the fund to 300 billion won. The following are the excerpts from the interview.
Question: Would you say is the object of designation of Daedeok Innopolis?
Answer: Many people share the view that now is the time when Korea has to change its economic development model. In the past, Korea depended on raising its national income by efficiently using the three requisites for production - capital, manpower and raw materials. During the process, Korea had been engrossed in copying external technologies. However, Korea itself now finds it impossible to raise the national income to $20,000 or $30,000 by the methods in the past. Management of the economy has no choice but to shift into an innovation-driven mode. The key of an innovation-driven economy is to independently develop new technologies and to commercialize them.
Daedeok Science Town, which has a 30 year-old history, has the potential to be innovation-oriented. The town accommodates 63 research institutes - 30 affiliated with state and public corporations and 33 belonging to the private sector. Within the precincts of the town are six educational institutions, including KAIST and Chungnam National University. About 700 companies are currently situated the town, albeit the figure is constantly developing.
The town has made a considerable range of research achievements during its 30 year history. These include Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) and wireless mobile internet WiBro Electronics and Telecommunications, developed by (ETRI). KAIST has made a strong showing in the IT sector as it is taking a lead in the development of humanoid robots. Chungnam National University and the Life Science Research Institute have found their niche in the development of the bio-tech sector. Commercialization of such accumulated research capabilities will create new industries and new engines for growth that could lead to raising the per capita national income to $20,000 or $30,000. A special law was enacted last January under the concept.
President Roh Moo-hyun participated in a ceremony for declaring Daedeok Innopolis last March. I took office as the president of the Agency for Daedeok Innopolis, and was inaugurated on September 1.
Q: what tasks to be addressed or implemented in the course of developing Daedeok Innopolis as a global research cluster?
A: In fact, many research activities have so far been made in disregard of markets. However, there is a rosy potential to be explored if industry, academy and research institute circles collaborate to find new engines for growth. Our agency is exerting itself to help venture and mid-level companies complement each other in the industry-academy-research institute collaboration so that world-class products can be developed with a competitive edge in global markets. I intend to develop Daedeok Innopolis into a global top five innovation cluster by 2015.
Many countries are moving to join efforts to designate innovation clusters. A case in point is Silicon Valley in the United States. Such areas like Sophia Antipolis in France, Kista in Sweden and Oulu in Finland are famous as global innovation clusters. These innovation clusters consider partnership with the industrial community and close cooperation among industrial, academic and research institute circles as key parts in their operation.
The most important thing upon which our agency attaches priority is commercialization of research outcomes. KAIST and Chungnam National University are most active in such a way ¡ª exploring items ready for commercialization while engaging in research for markets and reviewing the existing research achievements. Our agency has supported five projects that could have the feasibility of commercialization.
Q: What do you think are the integral parts of commercialization?
A: Manpower, money and marketing are prerequisites for making industrialization successful. Our agency will encourage universities to cultivate the manpower that companies badly need. The agency will raise 100 billion won in a funds designed to offer a helping hand to venture companies which experience difficulties in making initial investments. The long-term goal is to raise the fund to 300 billion won. The public sector has already earmarked 20 billion won in next year's budgets. We expect companies to raise funds because more and more foreign investors are visiting Daedeok Innopolis explore any possible investments.
The agency plans to conclude an MOU on marketing with KOTRA and the Small Business Corporation. It will make efforts to ameliorate the overseas marketing environment and enable start-up companies to do business at ease. The agency will endeavor to have synergetic energy through collaboration among industry, academy and research institute circles and support from the local autonomous bodies while channeling resources from the central government.
Q: A factor in realizing the goal of growing Daedeok Innopolis into a global top 5 innovation cluster is globalization.
Would you elaborate on this subject?
A: We have to make efforts to promote globalization to compete with global clusters. On the overseas front, the agency has already signed an MOU on cooperation with Sophia Antipolis, and it has put forward a proposal for a similar agreement with Oulu in Finland. The agency plans to activate the Daedeok Connector Program, a collaboration program among industrial, academic and research institute circles serving as an essential part of cluster activities. The program covers a complete cycle until finalization of technology development. On the internal front, the agency is trying to solve such grievances and complaints as tax, education and medical issues for about 1,000 foreign residents in the area.
Q: Would you explain the plans to promote cooperation with regional clusters in Korea?
A: There are seven regional clusters across the nation. The agency is seeking to transform Daedeok Innopolis into a greater innovation cluster by linking regional clusters. Externally, the agency intends to establish a platform to develop Daedeok Innopolis into a global top 5 cluster. I see that chances are good that as a high caliber science town, Daedeok could evolve into a global top 5 cluster if a market-friendly, corporation-friendly mood is successfully activated.
Daedeok has been recognized more abroad than in Korea. The science town has numerous research institutes with approximately 12,000 researchers with a masters' degree or above, accounting for some 10 percent of the aggregate research manpower in Korea. About 30 percent of R&D outlays are channeled into Daedeok. The economy is likely to be converged or get comprehensive, so such research as in the IT and bio-tech sectors and product development will have to follow suit. Deadeok promises to be a place suitable for convergence and complexity. nw
A forum, organized by the presidential commission on balanced national development, gets under way in Daejeon on Oct. 17 to discuss ways of developing Deadeok Innopolis into a world-class innovation cluster.
An aerial view of the Daedeok Innopolis area, including Daejeon Science Town
Park In-chul, president of the Agency for Daedeok Innopolis
The Agency for Daedeok Innopolis building