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South Korea to run pilot test of Knowledge Crowd R&D Program platform

South Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT has recently inaugurated the pilot run of the 2018 “Knowledge Crowd R&D Program” in accordance with the “national strategy for the acquisition of future material source technology” discussed earlier by the Steering Commitee of the Presidential Advisory Council on Science and Technology (PACST) on 25 April this year. 

Designed as a platform to connect the expertise of public research institutions to the technical needs of small-medium enterprises (SMEs), the “Knowledge Crowd R&D Program” is intended to provide technical support for SMEs faced with material or technical challenges that they may not have the resources or expertise to resolve on their own. South Korean SMEs may request technical assistance via this program and solicit for solutions from public research institutions. Bringing together private sector needs and public research expertise, the program is the latest initiative in South Korea’s array of public-private partnerships.

The pilot run of the program consists of multiple phases conducted over a period of 2 years: 

In the first year, the Ministry of Science and ICT will first compile a list of technical problems faced by SMEs prior to sending out invitations for researchers to take up cases and propose solutions for them; the case selection process will be conducted on a competitive basis, and in order to encourage uptake of cases, the ministry will subsidise all research fees incurred by the participating researcher. 

In the second year, projects will be selected based on preliminary results, and once proposals have been vetted and reviewed there will be a process of matching accepted solutions to SMEs. The research project will then be supported until it reaches practical application. Funding for research will be assessed and supported on a one-to-one basis, and intellectual property rights that are created intellectual property rights that are created at the end of the partnership will be jointly owned by the research institute that undertook research on behalf of the SME that requested technical assistance, as well as the requesting SME itself.

Under the 2018 “Knowledge Crowd R&D Program”, the Ministry of Science and ICT intends to support not more than 2 to 3 cases and support 6 preliminary research efforts within a time frame of 5 months and budget of 40 million won in 2018; in 2019, based on the condition that the research time frame be within 4.5 years and 500 million won, 2 research projects will be selected to receive government funding. Requests for technical assistance from SMEs will be accepted from 1 June to 29 June via the  government’s online public consultation portal (idea.epeople.go.kr) , and solution proposals will be assigned based on the “priority of problem”.

“We plan to expand the scope of the project in accordance with the results of the '2018 Knowledge Crowd Research and Development Program” said Kim Jung Won, Director of the Ministry of Science and ICT R&D Policy Bureau. “We hope that it will be an opportunity for [South Korean] companies to grow in quality”.

The launch of the inaugural “Knowledge Crowd R&D Program” this year underscores the South Korean government’s recent initiatives to promote cooperative governance via the creation of  public-private partnerships to not only drive public research efforts, but also inform policymaking decisions. 

This month, South Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT and the Korea Internet and Security Agency had jointly released cybersecurity guides that were collaboratively designed with members of the country’s IoT Security Alliance. The recently concluded 2018 ICT Commercialisation Festival also highlights the South Korean government’s commitment to tapping on private sector opportunities for improving governance and public service delivery.

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