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South Korea announces establishment of 12 University ICT Research Centers

South Korea announces establishment of 12 University ICT Research Centers

South
Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT has recently announced the establishment of
12 “University ICT Research Centers”  in
a number of the country’s top universities. 

As part of the Ministry’s efforts
to cultivate ICT talent in preparation for the 4th Industrial Revolution, these
centers are intended to recruit and nurture fresh talent in critical
technologies — among  them Big Data, AI
and Blockchain — highlighted in the Ministry of Science and ICT’s
Data-Network-AI Framework.

The
12 University ICT Research Centers will be established in the following 12
leading universities: Kangwon National University, Korea University, Kookmin
University, Sogang University, Sejong University, Soongsil University, Ajou
University, Pohang University of Science and Technology (Postech) , Korea
Advanced Institute of Science and Technology KAIST) and  Korea Polytechnic University, Hoseo
University. Ajou University will host 2 separate ICT Research Centers focusing
on different technologies at its Suwon campus.

According
to a press release by the Ministry of Science and ICT
, each University ICT Research Center will be assigned a research
niche. Hoseo University and KAIST, for example, will conduct research on Big
Data and deep learning for AI respectively. 

To allay potential research costs
and support research projects, the Ministry has announced that the centers will
be jointly provided 5.3 to 8 billion won in research funding over the next 4
years.

The
establishment of the University ICT Research Centers will train and nurture ICT
talent capable of tapping onto critical technologies to deliver economic
progress with the coming of the 4th Industrial Revolution. 

At present, the
programme is expected to draw 600 students per year, as well as more than 75
companies.  It is hoped that, by acting
as a conduit for “providing [a] stable supply of [ICT talent]”, the centers
will play a significant role in not only international joint research projects,
but also fostering public-private partnerships between universities and
small-medium enterprises (SMEs).

Prior
to the establishment of the centers, the Ministry of Science and ICT conducted
a similar “ICT Research Center Support Project” between 2000 to 2017. Via this
initiative, it is estimated that 14 020 high-level graduates (masters and
doctoral level) were trained, 4250 domestic and foreign patents were registered
and 339 billion won worth of technology transfer income was gained. 

According
to the Ministry of Science and ICT, the programme’s research productivity was
approximately 10 times higher than the domestic average in 2017. 

As the
predecessor to this year’s “University ICT Research Center” initiative, the
“ICT Research Center Support Project” provides strong empirical basis for
potential success.

By
linking industrial demand and ICT challenges faced by businesses with the
research expertise of universities, the “University ICT Research Center”
programme constitutes one out of many avenues for South Korean public-private
partnerships. 

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Science and ICT had announced
plans to introduce a “Core Research Facility” to increase equipment utilisation
rates and boost national research productivity
; the ministry had also established
a Natural Product Innovations Growth Promotion Team
that underscored an emphasis on public-private partnerships in the
country.

As a
key feature of many South Korean government initiatives, public-private
partnerships not only serve as core engines of growth as the country pushes
towards digital transformation, but also enhance governmental transparency
since these partnerships often operate on the basis of mutual accountability. 

Via public – private partnerships, South Korea has since created new business
opportunities for private businesses, new solutions for public-sector agencies
and new avenues for deeper industrial-academic or government-business projects
across a wide spectrum of ICT and non-ICT aspects.

“Through this new programme, I hope that ICT
talent critical to the 4th Industrial Revolution will be nurtured,” said Yong
Hong-taek, Director-General of the Ministry of Science and ICT’s Information
Communication Industry Policy. “We will continue to expand support for the
programme”.

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