If we have ten keys to open the doors of the future, we can build an empire that never dies. If a single key works for a span of one hundred years, the empire can survive for one thousand years . Young and old, we often dream of that kingdom looking up at the sky stained with the contrails that airplanes emit. So do the technocrats in the government and IT developers. They are the dreamers who always want to find some spell to make more master keys. Sometimes their dreams come true. The technologies that we share today are examples of those dreams come true.
Here are more such efforts to open the doors to the future. The Ministry of Knowledge Economy put ten keys in the box of the future, which are believed to be set aside against the hard days of South Korea now suffering a recession amid the global economic crisis.
The Korea IT Times met with Lee Chang-han, Director General for Technology Policy in the Ministry of Knowledge Economy, to hear the legend of the ten keys named Korea's Best Ten New Technologies. The legend of each key makes one lean in with their ears wide open.
Q.You have selected three Best Ten New Technologies for 2009. Can you tell us the significance of the selection
A.The ten new technologies represent the best of the best that have come to light in Korea in 2008. They are world firsts and the world's best in the standards of technology and business models. They are not just dreamy technologies. They are realities that can impact world markets and make profits in business. The selection means the government certifies that they are reliable and deserve investment from the private and public sectors. Every year private researchers and developers compete for the selection. The higher the competition gets, the better the technologies that result. The selection as a whole plays the role of encouraging the brains that think up high technologies, especially in the hard times of the sluggish economy like today.
Q.What points did you focus on as choosing the ten
A.As is well known, experts from electronics, chemicals, bio-science and environmental resources sectors have taken part in the selection. They gave grades for several specific categories to choose the best ten technologies from the nominees. The judges thoroughly scrutinized each nominee to make sure that each tech is profitable and has a business impact on each industry. They visited the labs and workplaces of the participants. We had to create some balance between large companies and small- and mediumsized businesses. All these efforts were to select the world's best.
Q.Can you tell us more specifically about the competitiveness and effect that they have
A.They will occupy 21% in related markets around the world in 2009. The total revenue will reach 5.2 trillion won. They are very promising. Let me explain one by one. The grand prize winner 1Gb DDR2 SDRAM of Samsung is the first to apply 50nm technologies in DRAM. It consumes much less electricity and is environmentally-friendly. The chip will lead the world market and will make Samsung keep its leadership in the DRAM industry. Samsung started manufacturing the chips in the first half of 2009. The new production system of Atorvastatin by Jongkundang is highly acclaimed by judges because it can replace foreign packages with domestic products. Atorvastatin is a component that reduces the risk of high blood cholesterol. The market in Korea is worth 85 billion won. The judges agreed that the new system will earn substantial royalty fees and enhance national competitiveness in the future. The drill ship made by Samsung Heavy Industry is a next-generation drill ship that can sail in extreme conditions like the North Pole. Hyundai's Avante LPI Hybrid Auto and Kolon's PVDF were selected as the world's first and the world's best technologies. Hyundai's Avante uses LPG and Lithium batteries. It emits 40% less carbon dioxide gas than gasoline autos.
Q.What is your R&D policy How are you going to encourage the industries that will face a downward curve in every index of economy amid the world recession
A.All indicators show that our economy will continue to suffer a downturn as the world economy slips downwards. I know that every business is reluctant to invest money to R&D, but R&D is the thing for the future. The Ministry has set up some R&D encouragement policies both for short-term and long-term.
For the short-term, the government will execute the planned 4 trillion won [investment] in R&D earlier than scheduled. It will be used to support small- and medium-sized companies and research groups, and to increase employment across the nation. For the long term perspective, it will focus on exploring new technologies and supporting them by allotting 1.7 trillion won. The government will form some funds to invest to new technologies through Holistic Innovation and Open Innovation, which are programs to bolster innovative minds.
Q.The lifespan of technologies is getting shorter and shorter. This means that the risk also gets higher. Do you think that a new strategy is necessary
A.I think that the best solution to that matter is the pursuit of global R&D. In the late 1990s, the OECD suggested the R&D as a new paradigm for innovation. We do not know when a new technology emerges or who will develop it. If someone announces a new one in advance, other people who have devoted every asset to it would go bankrupt. In this sense, global R&D is a way for everybody to win. Cooperation among competitors is the most effective way to create a new technology. The United States, Great Britain, and Germany are the examples that support global cooperation in core technological development. They spend twenty to fifty percent of their R&D budget in such fields as international collective research and foreign talent recruitment. Finland and Israel also maneuver international cooperative research as the long-term strategy to get high technology information. China and Taiwan have been doing their very best to seduce minds and technologies from outside.