In the run-up to the 27th IASP World Conference on Science & Technology Parks (IASP 2010 Daedeok), Lee Taek-ku, Director-General of Economy and Science Bureau of Daejeon Metropolitan City and an adjunct professor at Chungnam National University, sat down with Korea IT Times to touch upon an envisaged future for science city Daejeon; tenable win-win strategies between global science cities; roles played by a green-minded global city; and projects in the works in advance of the IASP 2010 Daedeok.
1. Could you introduce to us science city Daejeon and the tenable win-win strategies, if any, between global science cities
Daejeon, situated at the heart of Korea, is an exemplary science city, whose Daedeok Innopolis, undeniably the cradle of Korea's science and technology. It is home to world-class R&D facilities, 28 government-funded research institutes, six universities including KAIST and nearly 1,000 high-tech companies.
Daedeok Innopolis, where over KRW 30 trillion has been invested over the past 35 years, has been responsible for economic achievements worth more than KRW 300 trillion. Its noteworthy R&D feats include the development of the world's first DRAM; the world's first commercialization of CDMA; the development of walking humanoid robot HUBO; KSTAR (a tokamak-typed nuclear fusion reactor), multi-purpose satellite Arirang-2, and Korean-style nuclear reactor APR-1400, which recently helped Korea to beat America and France to win a multi-billion dollar nuclear contract with the UAE.
Daedeok Innopolis, designated as Korea's first R&D Special Zone in 2005, is well on track to become one of the world's most innovative R&D clusters like Silicon Valley in the U.S. and Zhongguancun in China, where R&D seamlessly interconnects with business sectors. Since 2005, the efforts to turn R&D activities into business, create an amicable environment for venture businesses, embrace globalization and cooperate with other regions have paid off, as the number of companies located in Daedeok Innopolis advanced to 980 from 680; the number of companies on the Kosdaq climbed to 22 from 11; and nine foreign R&D centers are operating in the Innopolis, up from three before 2005.
Daejeon set up the World Technopolis Association (WTA) in 1998, which has 23 science cities in 10 nations as members - in order to link science and technology to regional development and promote exchanges and cooperation between global science cities. The WTA has evolved into an international organization with a membership of 66 science, resarch institutes, and universities in 33 nations. Since April 2006 when it was officially recognized as a NGO by UNESCO, the WTA has undertaken UNESCO-WTA joint projects, which focuses on bridging the gaping technological divide between developed and underdeveloped nations by building capacity, facilitating technology assistance and launching pilot projects.
2. Could you tell us about the roles played by a green growth-minded city and your policy for low-carbon, green growth
Since 2006, Daejeon has always been a step ahead of the Korean government in promoting green growth. Its green efforts include "the 30 million tree-planting campaign", "the restoration of three major rivers" and "the bicycle-friendly city project". As a result, Daejeon won Korea's Best Green City Award, was chosen as the greatest contributor to the UN's seven billion tree campaign and joined the Climate Neutral Network, launched by the UNEP.
The 30 million tree-planting campaign - which aims to plant two million trees a year until 2020 to boost the share of urban green space to 15.7 percent - has so far planted nearly 6.1 million trees, creating urban parks and landscaped median strips and transforming Daejeon into a city with the best air quality and the lowest noise level. Forty domestic and foreign cities - including Matsue, a small Japanese city that has taken their cues from Daejeon.
In addition, Daejeon's bicycle-friendly city project is designed to jack up the share of bicycle use to five percent by 2010. We are building 192km long bicycle-only lanes and 125km long ones alongside three major rivers. Tashu, an unmanned bicycle rental system, was jointly developed with Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute(ETRI) to efficiently manage public bicycles whose number will reach 5,000 by the end of 2010.
3. Could you tell us about Daejeon's endeavor to create new industries and its visions
There is no doubt that the need for new growth engines that can replace existing flagship industries are ever growing in the face of overheating global competition, the advent of knowledge-based economies and depleting energy sources. Therefore, Daejeon has been keen on building renewable energy R&BD, nano fusion industries, a world-class cutting-edge medical industry cluster, and defense industries.
Firstly, we plan to build a renewable energy R&BD hub center by 2012. And the number of SMEs engaged in renewable energy will balloon from 44 to 100 by the same year with the goal of racking up KRW one trillion in sales and more than 3,000 jobs. Secondly, we will set up a nano fusion industry technology center under the Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials (KIMM) and create 100 nanotechnology companies with the goal of achieving KRW one trillion in sales and creating 6,000 jobs by 2020.
Thirdly, capitalizing on Daedeok Innopolis's prowess in developing new medicines and state-of-the-art medical equipment, we are running several projects aimed at nurturing cutting-edge medical industries. Those projects include the establishment of Bio-Med Connect Center (BMCC); u-wellbeing city pilot projects; and the building of a high-tech medical cluster.
4. Could you brief us on the special projects launched by Daejeon in preparation for the upcoming the IASP 2010 Daedeok
With a projected turnout of 1,200 domestic and foreign participants, we are set to project Daejeon as a leading science city intent on green growth. For a start, The Eco City Pavilion will be put up to impress participants with Daedeok Innopolis's R&D capability for creating new growth engine industries and to introduce the 30 million tree-planting campaign, the restoration of three major rivers, the bicycle-friendly city project, and projects to build a green technology industry cluster.
Furthermore, the WTA Promotion Pavilion will be set up to promote the achievements of the WTA and ramp up global networks with the world' leading innovative R&D clusters. Also, the 23rd IAEA FEC Conference, slated to be held in Daejeon in October this year, and the 7th WTA Hi-tech fair will be introduced to boost Daejeon's international status as a science city and a MICE destination.
5. What do you expect from hosting the IASP 2010 Daedeok
The conference will serve as an opportunity for forming global networks with other innovative clusters, thereby helping Daejeon to leapfrog into becoming a world-class innovation cluster. In addition, as Daedeok Innopolis is successfully transitioning into an R&BD hub from a mere R&D specialized zone; we can find more opportunities for exporting our science park model to developing nations. What's more, the brand image of Daedeok Innopolis will be globally revamped, bringing more global R&D business projects to domestic institutions in Daedeok Innopolis.