At a time when the entire nation is busy searching for items that could develop into the nation’s backbone industries in the future, there is no denying that science and technology will serve as a future growth engine for the Korean economy.
We are living in an era where innovation in science and technology dictates the survival of individuals, as well as countries. On that note, it is fair to say that Gyeonggi-do, located in the mid-western part of the Korean peninsula, is the science and technology Mecca in South Korea since Gyeonggi-do is home to 30% of the nation’s top-notch science and technology workforce, approximately 40% of science and technology research institutions and companies - especially, 70% of the nation’s biotechnology industry.
The Gyeonggi Institute of Science & Technology Promotion (GSTEP), committed to fostering nearly 45% of the nation’s innovation capabilities in science and technology, draws up science and technology policies and strategies for Gyeonggi-do; supports SMEs’ endeavors for technology development; carries out projects for the development of state-of-the-art technologies; and sets up industry-academia innovation clusters. Gyeonggi-do taking the lion’s share of the nation’s science and technology industry implies that the nation’s success is contingent on Gyeonggi-do’s ascent.
“Gyeonggi-do has strived to develop technologies and is looking to further bolster its capabilities for driving innovation in science and technology so as to set up a regional innovation system in Gyeonggi-do,” said the Park Chung-taek, President of the GSTEP.
Pangyo Techno Valley (PTV), where an investment of KRW 5.27 trillion was ploughed into, is projected to grow into a world-class industrial complex that can compare with Silicon Valley.
Pangyo Techno Valley (PTV), an industrial complex in Pangyo (a satellite city of Seoul), is viewed as the most successful among many other tech clusters built nationwide. As major companies from home and abroad (e.g. Institute Pasteur Korea, Naver, AhnLab and Samsung Techwin) and 15 other entities, such as research institutes and financial institutions, have relocated to the PTV, the PTV is now facing a shortage of commercial buildings. It is true of Gwanggyo New Town,located between Suwon city and Yongin city. As a result, GSTEP President Park Chung-taek is gleefully dealing with issues arising from the PTV’s greater-than-expected success. The occupancy rate of the PTV, scheduled to be completed in 2015, currently stands at 80% with large, middle-sized and small companies in the golden ratio of 2:5:3. Companies located in the PTV grossed KRW 54 trillion in sales last year alone. “Ten years after all the relocations are finalized, the PTV will have become the nation’s No.1 techno cluster, capable of posting over KRW 300 trillion in sales,” President Park expressed his confidence in the PTV.
The PTV’s success will create more start-ups and boost job creation, perhaps expediting the materialization of the S. Korean government’s creative economy initiative. Bearing in mind the creative economy initiative, President Park is looking to nurture the PTV into an ICT-based tech hub by attracting more companies, holding job fairs and lending support for the establishment of innovation clusters based on industry-academia networks.
Gyeonggi-do, home to 70% of the nation’s biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry, heads up the S. Korean biotech industry, a next-generation industry with huge growth potential.
The high-value-added biotech industry, dedicated to using biological systems, living organisms or derivatives thereof to make or modify products or services for practical use, has basked in attention as a promising industry that could considerably shore up the Korean economy in the future. Having in mind the significance of the biotech industry, Gyeonggi-do opened the Gyeonggi Bio Center (GGBC) and the Gyeonggi Natural Products Research Institute (GNPRI) to take Gyeonggi-do’s biotech and pharmaceutical industry to new heights. As of now, the GSTEP is running both the GGBC and the GNPRI.
The GGBC furnishes biotech & pharmaceutical testing labs, analysis services based on cutting-edge equipment and support for biotechnology commercialization projects. Above all, approximately 250 biotech & pharmaceutical companies, research institutes, universities and other companies related to biotechnology have benefitted from the GSTEP’s analysis service based on the GSTEP’s 135 cutting-edge devices, including high-resolution mass spectrographs. The GGBC’s analysis service has proven to be a great help to poorly-equipped local research institutes and SMEs: 90.7% of those who used the GSTEP’s analysis service were SMEs.
Meanwhile, the GNPRI supports research and development (R&D) projects and drug tests –for instance, the development of naturally-sourced functional foods, new drug candidates made from natural sources and new drug materials and non-clinical efficacy testing. The GNPRI has recently transferred the results of its studies on anti-obesity drug materials and on ways to improve lung health to a local SME. In addition, the GNPRI signed a cooperation agreement with University Brunei Darussalam (UBD) in order to reinforce cooperation on biotech & pharmaceutical researches and exchange information and R&D personnel.
Laying the foundation for drawing up science and technology policy, based on local governance, not central governance
The GSTEP is an unprecedented science & technology-powered regional development model, devised by a municipality. “The GSTEP focuses on local demands to hammer out new regionally-tailored science and technology policy and is intent on laying the groundwork for the transition from centralization to decentralization in drawing up science and technology policy,” mentioned President Park.
Therefore, President Park aims to build a PTV-led innovation cluster based on ICT · software convergence, which spearheads start-up incubation programs, forums and educational programs so as to spur up the creation of start-ups and jobs. And President Park is poised to maximize regional capabilities for technological innovation by strengthening industry-academia collaboration through the Industry Innovation Cluster Committee (IICC). What’s more, he plans to provide companies with customized, cutting-edge technology information and assistance programs, with a view to enabling the IICC, which is currently divided into 14 different groups, to innovate and operate on its own.
President Park has been keen on nurturing the PTV and Gwanggyo New Town, the top two pillars of Gyeonggi-do’s technological innovation capabilities, into K-Valley, a world-class innovation cluster. He believes that K-Valley would serve as an important cog in the government’s creative economy initiative.
On top of that, the GSTEP has made varied efforts for the popularization of science and technology; it has run science culture programs for the underprivileged, the disable and those living in rural and remote areas and experience-oriented science classes for elementary school students and delivered science lectures to approximately 13,000 students at 96 middle and high school schools.