"This year GE has announced a 'healthymagination' movement to improve technology and quality of life while cutting health care costs. Health care information technology is a pivotal technology that broadly impacts everyone. Korea is a very advanced country in information technology. We believe Korea has a technology infrastructure, talent pool and capability, which can help GE tremendously to impact other regions as well as Korea. We are committed to this R&D center and we have high hopes for the capability and possibility of the R&D center," said GE Health Care IT President Vishal Wanchoo.
The Ministry of Knowledge Economy and Incheon Metropolitan City held a signing ceremony at the Shilla Hotel on December 18. The Vice Minister of Knowledge Economy Kim Young-hak, Inchoen City Mayor Ahn Sang-soo, and President of GE Healthcare IT Vishal Wanchoo were present at this event to celebrate the beginning of their partnership.
Vice Minister of Knowledge Economy Kim Young-hak stressed the importance of cheap medical care in his congratulatory message at the event. "Due to the low birth rate and an increase of elderly people in our society," he said, "the medical expense is rising. Other countries have already experienced this social problem and invested in u-Health projects to lower medical expenses with government help. U-Health is strategic multinational business. GE has a plan to invest US$6 billion in health care for the next six years and the potential annual growth of the u-Health industry is over 50 percent. While Song-do City has excellent infrastructure, three international universities and national hospitals are planned to be built. The city will take an important role as a bio hub of Asia. Through a partnership between the City of Incheon and GE, Korean companies and GE can use a global network to expand their businesses and the partnership will leave a great footprint in the future of u-Health."
Incheon, Growth Hub
Incheon is a rapidly growing city as a hub of Northeast Asia where one third of global trade market is located. Through the Incheon international airport and seaport, the city creates an excellent environment for global companies to do business in Asia. As a part of Incheon Free Economic Zone (IFEZ), Song-do City in Incheon has become the center of international business and high-tech industry. The city is currently building an international trade center, schools, university research centers, venture towns, and more. Song-do City, especially, has a plan to promote the medical industry.
"Song-do is a compact smart city where global companies would be able to collaborate and create a driving force for the future u-Health industry. In order to create a ubiquitous environment, Song-do New City is an excellent place to start because the city was built from the ground up. Global companies can test their new projects and make into realization in Incheon. The health care industry is growing, and the city will work closely with many companies and hospitals to expand the industry," said Incheon City Mayor Ahn Sang-soo.
Ahn Sang-soo has recently shared his vision of Song-do City to become a leader in the biomedical industry through u-Healthcare. Song-do then will export technologies to a global market as the next driving engine of Korea. Global companies like IBM and Cisco already made agreements to build a research center in Incheon and GE's new agreement to build a u-Health research center will raise the brand value of Incheon City.
The reason that many global companies are considering Incheon as their business hub in Asia is due to its geological location and its industrial infrastructure. Incheon is located at the west coast of South Korea adjacent to Seoul, the national capital. Through Incheon airport, most major Northeast Asian cities are within a three hour flight. Also, the international seaport makes it easier for shipping and distributing. In addition to the convenient transportation, the other advantage of Incheon is Song-do New City, where industrial infrastructure was planned from the start to provide the best environment for the high-tech industry. Its state of the art infrastructure goes far beyond any other cities in the world. Song-do City is located in the IFTZ. The IFTZ is an autonomous district with a distinctive set of rules and policies that makes easier for foreign companies to business. As Asia grows as one of the major global market, many foreign companies are moving to Asia to expand their business. The City of Incheon is setting a stage of future trends and more global companies are expected to join Incheon in the future.
Last May, GE announced a plan to invest six billion dollars in health care-related IT business dubbed 'Heathymagination' in order to improve health care while cutting costs. The word 'healthymagination' is a compound of 'heath' and 'imagination at work.' GE first had a plan to build an R&D center in one of three countries China, Singapore or Korea. But in the end, Korea was chosen as the site.
It is meaningful for Korea to be selected over China and Singapore. The GE's R&D center will be built in Song-do city for the first time in Asia.
For next five years, GE plans to invest W49.5 billion in the R&D center which will be located in the Bio Research Complex of the IFTZ. About 55~60 researchers will work at the center to do research about customized medical information technology and advanced medical solutions.
Song-do R&D center is a part of GE's plans to expand the u-Health business. In October, GE Health Korea started providing u-Health solutions such as a Master Patient Index (MPI), Clinical Portals, and PHR. GE, who is setting up health care as a new growth engine, has put continuous investment in Korea with great interest for its advanced technology and infrastructure, while Korean hospitals are looking for u-Health care and advanced medical solutions.
In 2007, GE established the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) center, to digitize patient records. The new GE R&D center will establish a u-hospital through partnership with domestic hospitals, so patients can get diagnoses and treatments anywhere at any time. GE and hospitals are also looking for joint overseas marketing since the bio complex in Incheon includes global companies like IBM, CISCO and many hospitals as a center of u-health R&D. A Ministry of Knowledge Economy representative said, "Through the GE's new R&D center, we can gain new knowledge in the u-Health business and produce professionals to help Song-do City to become the hub of the global u-Health business."