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South Korea holds joint discussion on national innovation strategy

South Korea holds joint discussion on national innovation strategy

South Korea’s Academy
of Science and Technology, the National Engineering Academy of Korea and the
National Academy of Medicine of Korea have recently held a joint discussion on
5th June at the Korea Press Center in Seoul. Focusing on the theme of designing
a “National R&D Innovation Strategy”, the joint discussion provided a
platform for consultation and policy feedback.

According to a press
release by South Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT
, the joint
discussion was intended to be a consultative feedback session for government
policymakers to garner opinions from the epistemic community in science and
technology research in preparation of the release of an upcoming “National
R&D Innovation Plan”, as well as for the eventual upgrading of the country’s
National Innovation System.

The “National R&D
Innovation Plan” is part of the Moon administration’s initiatives to prepare
the South Korean economy and society for the “4th Industrial Revolution”. In
addition to providing new opportunities for research and development,
particularly in the field of advanced technologies such as AI,
Internet-of-Things and Big Data, the upcoming “National R&D Innovation Plan”
is expected to revamp the country’s ageing National Innovation system by
adopting a more people-oriented approach.

There is currently no
universal definition of the concept of a “National Innovation System”.
According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD),
a national innovation system refers to the web of linkages or interactions
between actors such as universities, private enterprises and public research
institutions; linkages can assume the form of “joint research, personnel
exchanges, cross-patenting, purchase of equipment and a variety of other
channels”.

National Innovation
Systems can be assessed according to 4 criteria: Interactions among
enterprises, interactions among enterprises, universities, and public research
research institutes, diffusion of knowledge and technology to enterprises, as
well as personnel mobility within these linkages.

Prior to the joint
discussion, two presentations relevant to the prospects of South Korea’s
National Innovation System were given: the first, by Director of Science and
Technology Policy Bureau Ryu Gwang-Joon, emphasised a macro framework for
people-oriented, or human-centred, R&D innovation, and stressed the need to
enhance the “innovative competencies” of public and private enterprises to seek
“scientific and technological solutions for social issues; the second, given by
Deputy General Director of the Academy of Science and Technology Yoo Wook-Jun,
reiterated past scientific and technological achievements that contributed to
the economic development of South Korea.

“Present R&D
management systems since the past industrial revolution have reached their
limits”, said Im Dae – Sik, Director of the Science, Technology and Innovation
Office. “(There is) a need for a new R&D system that emphasises the
autonomy and creativity of our researchers”. Additionally, Director Im also
called for stronger public-private cooperation is establishing a “national
R&D system centred on people and society”.

The joint discussion
on South Korea’s “National R&D Innovation Strategy” comes amidst mounting
concerns over lacklustre R&D growth. The dominance of the country’s
conglomerates , or chaebols, extends even to research and development, and
R&D activities are largely concentrated on them as well as and state-run research
institutes. Other concerns regarding the prospects of South Korea’s R&D
initiatives include bureaucratic inefficiency, lack of originality and
over-reliance of small-medium enterprises (SMEs) on the chaebol.

The Ministry of Science and ICT will review the
opinions gathered from the joint discussion prior to  finalising and implementing the “National R
& D Innovation Plan”. The “National R&D Innovation Plan” is expected to
be implemented via consultation with the Presidential Advisory Council on
Science and Technology (PACST) in the first half of this year.