SEOUL, May 12 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korea launched a presidential council on science and technology Thursday to oversee the nation’s efforts to overhaul the research and development (R&D) sector.
The “strategic” panel, headed by President Park Geun-hye, will serve as a “control tower” and a “trouble shooter” for South Korea’s overall science and technology policy, said the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning.
Park presided over the inaugural session of the council at her office Cheong Wa Dae, attended by 19 other standing members of the panel and 21 top government officials, including Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn.
“In the transition period of the economic paradigm, including the advent of the fourth Industrial Revolution, the only way to ride out the challenge facing our economy and make it leap again is the creative economy,” the ministry said. “The foundation of the creative economy, based on creative ideas and technology, is science and technology.”
A sense of crisis is palpable here over slow progress in South Korea’s R&D industry, as it’s eagerly seeking new growth engines.
South Korea spent 4.29 percent of its GDP on R&D as of 2014, but criticism has mounted that the government lacks specific strategy and leadership.
The landslide victory by Google DeepMind’s artificial intelligence program AlphaGo over South Korea’s Go master Lee Se-dol in March was another wake-up call.
There have been growing calls that South Korea should revamp its R&D strategy to catch up with global powerhouses in the field.
“South Korea’s existing R&D strategy is outdated and fundamental renovation is needed in the related system,” the ministry said.
It added that the government will review all its R&D projects from a “zero base” to focus on enhancing effectiveness and productivity.
Details of major R&D projects for 2017 will be decided in the next meeting of the council, of which a date has not been set, added the ministry.