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South Korea to promote joint use of research equipment among local universities

South Korea to promote joint use of research equipment among local universities

South Korea’s
Ministry of Science and ICT has recently announced plans to pilot a Core
Research Facility (CRF) in support of its “Na-Nweo-Sseul-Lae” or “Will You
Share it” Task Force initiative for enhancing efficient usage of the country’s
research equipment. The new “Core Research Facility” will complement the
existing Zone for Equipment Utilisation Service (ZEUS).

In a press release
by the Ministry
, the Core Research Facility is
intended to promote joint and efficient usage as well as clearer management of
South Korea’s research equipment facilities, particularly those present in
local universities. The CRF will “support basic equipment operation and data
interpretation”. 

By tapping onto research assets in universities, it is hoped
that research equipment in local universities can accessed by a wider range of
research professionals beyond professors or graduate students. This goal is in
line with the purpose of The Ministry of Science and ICT’s “Will You Share it” Task
Force initiative, which comprises various public research institutes, research
equipment users, managers and development specialists.

From 1 September
to 31 December this year, the Ministry of Science and ICT will select 3
research facilities such as university research labs and collect research equipment,
categorising them according to specific fields of research. Post-collation, the
Ministry of Science and ICTwill then determine the necessary expenses for the
initial setup of the CRF, taking into consideration costs such as equipment
transfer, repair and maintenance, and equipment operations training expenses.
The Ministry has currently budgeted 20 million won for each selected facility.

By compiling all
available research assets onto the Core Research Facility, a breakdown in a
local research facility management system will not hinder research works as
researchers are now able to continue accessing research assets via the central
management platform provided by the CRF.   

The CRF pools together research
equipment from individual research laboratories across the country, enhancing
equipment utilisation rates and boosting research productivity.

At present, South
Korea’s researchers are able to tap onto the ZEUS. A joint project between the National Research Facilities and
Equipment Center and the Ministry of Science and ICT, ZEUS is a comprehensive
online portal that “utilises the best equipment in (South Korea) to provide the
best serves to organise information” so as to maximise utilisation of national
research (assets)”.  

In 2017, it is
estimated that 181 research equipment were transferred between institutions via
ZEUS. While both the CRF and ZEUS are research asset management platforms, CRF
differs from ZEUS in that CRF focuses on under-utilised research assets in
university laboratories; research equipment registered under the CRF will also
be registered under ZEUS.

“With support from
(both ZEUS and CRF), the joint use of existing (research assets) will be
expanded and existing facilities will (be enhanced)”, said Lee Tae-Hee,
Director of the Performance Evaluation Policy Bureau under the Ministry’s
Science, Technology and Innovation Office. “I hope this will be a chance to
solidify the foundation (of South Korea’s research network)”. 

The pilot run of
the CRF will provide a litmust test in addressing the country’s complex
research assessment and management systems, as well as consolidate research
efforts between public research institutes and universities.

As of December 2017, South Korea’s expenditure in research and
development as a proportion of gross domestic product (GDP) is the world’s
highest. South Korean R&D intensity is highest in the world, at 4.23%. 

Despite heavy investments in R&D, South Korean R&D initiatives have not
translated into an equally high research commercialisation rate — lack of
coordination in research, poor research management systems and a dismal number
of public-private research partnerships have been highlighted as key factors
for the country’s underperformance.

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