Credit: Cbiz Korea

Credit: Cbiz Korea

South Korea announces establishment of 12 University ICT Research Centers

South Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT has recently announced the establishment of 12 “University ICT Research Centers”  in a number of the country’s top universities. 

As part of the Ministry’s efforts to cultivate ICT talent in preparation for the 4th Industrial Revolution, these centers are intended to recruit and nurture fresh talent in critical technologies — among  them Big Data, AI and Blockchain — highlighted in the Ministry of Science and ICT’s Data-Network-AI Framework.

The 12 University ICT Research Centers will be established in the following 12 leading universities: Kangwon National University, Korea University, Kookmin University, Sogang University, Sejong University, Soongsil University, Ajou University, Pohang University of Science and Technology (Postech) , Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology KAIST) and  Korea Polytechnic University, Hoseo University. Ajou University will host 2 separate ICT Research Centers focusing on different technologies at its Suwon campus.

According to a press release by the Ministry of Science and ICT, each University ICT Research Center will be assigned a research niche. Hoseo University and KAIST, for example, will conduct research on Big Data and deep learning for AI respectively. 

To allay potential research costs and support research projects, the Ministry has announced that the centers will be jointly provided 5.3 to 8 billion won in research funding over the next 4 years.

The establishment of the University ICT Research Centers will train and nurture ICT talent capable of tapping onto critical technologies to deliver economic progress with the coming of the 4th Industrial Revolution. 

At present, the programme is expected to draw 600 students per year, as well as more than 75 companies.  It is hoped that, by acting as a conduit for “providing [a] stable supply of [ICT talent]”, the centers will play a significant role in not only international joint research projects, but also fostering public-private partnerships between universities and small-medium enterprises (SMEs).

Prior to the establishment of the centers, the Ministry of Science and ICT conducted a similar “ICT Research Center Support Project” between 2000 to 2017. Via this initiative, it is estimated that 14 020 high-level graduates (masters and doctoral level) were trained, 4250 domestic and foreign patents were registered and 339 billion won worth of technology transfer income was gained. 

According to the Ministry of Science and ICT, the programme’s research productivity was approximately 10 times higher than the domestic average in 2017. 

As the predecessor to this year’s “University ICT Research Center” initiative, the “ICT Research Center Support Project” provides strong empirical basis for potential success.

By linking industrial demand and ICT challenges faced by businesses with the research expertise of universities, the “University ICT Research Center” programme constitutes one out of many avenues for South Korean public-private partnerships. 

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Science and ICT had announced plans to introduce a “Core Research Facility” to increase equipment utilisation rates and boost national research productivity; the ministry had also established a Natural Product Innovations Growth Promotion Team that underscored an emphasis on public-private partnerships in the country.

As a key feature of many South Korean government initiatives, public-private partnerships not only serve as core engines of growth as the country pushes towards digital transformation, but also enhance governmental transparency since these partnerships often operate on the basis of mutual accountability. 

Via public - private partnerships, South Korea has since created new business opportunities for private businesses, new solutions for public-sector agencies and new avenues for deeper industrial-academic or government-business projects across a wide spectrum of ICT and non-ICT aspects.

“Through this new programme, I hope that ICT talent critical to the 4th Industrial Revolution will be nurtured,” said Yong Hong-taek, Director-General of the Ministry of Science and ICT’s Information Communication Industry Policy. “We will continue to expand support for the programme”.

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