“We are putting the finishing touches on our 10-year project to nurture Pangyo Techno Valley into South Korea’s ICT hub. From now on, we will focus on the development of Gwanggyo BT Valley, the so-called second Pangyo Valley.”
“To rev up Gwanggyo BT Valley, the so-called next Pangyo, we are forging ahead with a plan called “Bio 2020.” We will draw up a strategy to nurture biotechnology into an industry that serves as the driving force behind economic growth,” said Kwak Jae-won, President of the Gyeonggi Institute of Science & Technology Promotion (GSTEP).
Pangyo Techno Valley has been credited with creating a cluster of cutting-edge knowledge-intensive industries, such as game, content, biotechnology and semiconductor, helping SMEs secure technologies and revitalizing R&D.
As of now, Pangyo Techno Valley houses roughly nearly 70,000 workers of 1,000 businesses, which grossed 70 trillion won in sales annually. President Kwak says he is drawing up a map of Gyeonggi-do’s entire science and technology industry to give rise to the next Pangyo Techno Valley. President Kwak has sat down for an interview with the Korea IT Times to talk about their emerging issues.
Q: Many believe that Pangyo Techno Valley has been playing a pivotal role in realizing the government’s creative economy initiative.
A: The first order of business was to build foundations and systems when we set about the Pangyo Techno Valleydevelopment project a decade ago. For the first five years, we were keen on attracting businesses to Pangyo Techno Valley and assisting them with their industrial activities. As Pangyo Techno Valley’s ICT business gained traction and more companies participated, we started to witness a series of success cases spring up.
The Pangyo Techno Valley development project will be finally crowned with the completion of the Industry-Academy R&D Center, dubbed a ‘startup academy building.’ Construction will be complete by the end of this month and the center will be opened early next year.
For the past five years, Pangyo Techno Valley has attracted an investment fund of 100 billion won and assisted about 500 Pangyo Techno Valley-based companies in developing and commercializing their technologies.
Q: I’ve heard that the second Pangyo Techno Valley (Gwanggyo) is designed for the promotion of technology-based small but strong enterprises.
A: Gwanggyo is emerging as a biotechnology hub. There are many universities in Gwanggyo, so industry-academia collaboration can be easily facilitated. While the government-led Osong Bio-Health Science Park is centered on natural and basic science researches, Gwanggyo is focused mainly on producing and exporting goods. Our strategy is focused on nurturing Gwanggyo into an incubator and accelerator dedicated to fostering technology-based small but strong companies though close cooperation with Industrial Bank of Korea, Korea Credit Guarantee Fund (KODIT), Technopark and KAIST.
In particular, we will set our sights on luring in foreign investment. We will make a gateway so as to make global companies’ access to Gwanggyo easy. State-of-the-art technologies, such as the IoT, big data technology, 3D and self-driving cars take center stage in building a smart city. However, South Korea lacks such technologies.
Therefore, in exchange for the transfer of technology from global companies operating in China, Russia and Europe to South Korea, we can share with them our knowhow on consumer-centered commercialization (e.g. marketization strategies), thereby creating considerable synergistic effects. Thus, when Chinese premier Li Keqiang paid a visit to South Korea, we introduced to him Pangyo Techno Valley and the next Pangyo Techno Valley and encouraged China’s investment in them.
Q: You’ve recently held the Korea-Russia Science and Technology Forum.
A: Russian delegations from the Skolkovo Foundation’s Skolkovo Technopark, Russia's equivalent of Silicon Valley, visited South Korea twice last year. And we discussed ways to boost mutual cooperation. Skolkovo Technopark was established in 2010 to help commercialize technologies in the aerospace, medical technology, energy, IT and nuclear power sectors and modernize the Russian economy based on state-of-the-art technologies.
Skolkovo Technopark is home to about 1,000 companies, research institutes and universities. The Korea-Russia Science and Technology Forum was held as a follow-up to a business agreement signed between GSTEP and Skolkovo Technopark. The forum served as a great opportunity for us to explore ways to spur on cooperation between the technology-armed Skolkovo Foundation and GSTEP, which is strong in technology commercialization.
In order to expand exchanges with European countries, we are currently working to open a window for Korean companies’ business with the EU market, a first in the nation. Recently, smart city teams from Vienna (Austria's capital) came to South Korea and signed agreements with us. We’ve set up Global Leaders’ Forum, comprised of major Pangyo Techno Valley-domiciled institutions and companies posting over 50 billion in sales. In addition, we are planning to turn a floor of the Gyoenggi Small and Medium Business Support Center (GSBC)’s building into Europe Business Center to allow agents specializing in business with Europe to have offices and focus on sales of technologies.
Q: Does GSTEP have any cluster innovation plan of particular interest
A: Last year, GSTEP had set up cluster innovation headquarters and enacted a cluster ordinance. Innovation cluster candidates include Pangyo Techno Valley, Gwanggyo and Ansan Science Park. Hanyang University Ansan Campus is on the list of science park candidates. Daejin Technopark, located in north Gyoenggi-do, is also one of them. We plan to develop small clusters one by one, taking into account the characteristics of each region.
Q: Some point out that Gyoenggi-do’s contribution to the Korean economy is relatively low compared to the capacity of companies in Gyoenggi-do and Gyoenggi-do’s scientific and technological potential.
A: In terms of companies, technology and science, Gyoenggi-do contributes 40 percent to the nation. However, our contribution to the Korean economy is a mere 20 percent because of strong regulations imposed on the Seoul Capital Area (SCA). And the central government and other regions are also holding Gyoenggi-do in check. Seoul can be called a city of politics and consumption while Gyoenggi-do can be described as a huge industrial complex. From now on, I think Gyoenggi-do needs to co-opt other regions and hammer out strategies that seek co-prosperity.
In that sense, the private sector’s discovery of creative talent, I believe, is all important. It is significant to create an environment where individuals can unleash their creativity. GSTEP, as an agent, will play a bridging role among the government, municipalities and the private sector in order to help develop individuals’ creativity in a way that can flesh out the government’s vision.