How South Korea keeps itself future ready in science & technology?

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In South Korea around 82% of population lives in urban areas. The economy of running such disproportionate urban population in a country with scarce natural resources lies with service and industry, which are largely technology driven. Korea impetus and outcome of technology focus can be seen from Technology Foresight (TF) that it pushes every 5 years. The first technology foresight was developed in 1994. Development of Technology Foresight follow a structured procedure of discovering future needs primarily using Delphi method. 



First TF forecasted the future technology till 2010. How reliable are these Technology Foresight can be understood from the fact that out of 1109 future technologies predicted in 1994, it was found that 470 of these technologies were fully implemented and 331 were partially implemented. That is an accuracy rate of 72.2%.



In 1998, Ministry of Science and Technology was created followed by setting up National S&T council in 1999. Under affiliation of Ministry of Science and ICT, KISTEP (Korea Institute of S&T Evaluation and Planning) has been leading future vision for innovation in Science and Technology for Korea. Like Israel, South Korea also invests heavily in R&D and innovation. KISTEP’s mission is to foster, evaluate and give direction to Korea’s R&D system.

“The main purpose of Technology Foresight (TF) in Korea is to predict the development of S&T and use the results in developing S&T policies. However, informing the public about what the future holds based on the development of S&T is an equally important role of TF.”

Six major function of KISTEP are:


Foresight and Future Strategy for S&T

  Nation’s resources are limited and therefore need careful planning and investment. Not all technology or sceintific developments are worth the venture. KISTEP foresight studies future science and technology trends. It also explores socio-economic impact of technology trends on the nation. Towards improving quality of life and addressing societal issues, KISTEP extends its support in developing roadmap for technology investment and development. KISTEP also assists with technology evaluation, assessment and establishing standards & classification for its useful implementation.



S&T Policy Planning and Coordination

  KISTEP helps with setting up 5 year plan for science and technology at national and regional levels. The plan also includes development of human resources and creative aspects. The institute also reviews midterm and short terms plans, setting up governance structures for steering the plan and assessing outcomes of plan execution. KISTEP also extends its support in planning and running the operation, and providing necessary legal support as needed.



Budget Allocation & Coordination of Government R&D Programs

  Any R&D or technology initiative needs funding support. KISTEP assists government in right allocations for technology development keeping in view national priorities. The inter-relational study of technology development with respect to other R&D programs in the country and its impact is also conducted. 



Evaluation of Government R&D Program Performance

  Evaluation of R&D programs helps identify key challenges and improvement areas. The methodology for survey and assessment is developed by KISTEP. The survey helps build strategy for enhancing R&D activities and build national intellectual property. The innovation capability is also published as Composite S&T Innovation Index (COSTII).



Feasibility Study on Government R&D Programs

  KISTEP assists government with feasibility study of new R&D programs. The study includes assessment from technology, policy and economy aspects. Not only does KISTEP studies R&D programs but also establishes and improves methodology to conduct the feasibility assessment.



Global Cooperation & Collaboration

  It is common sense that without collaboration and cooperation, furthering research activities is time consuming and expensive. KISTEP is establishing global cooperation platform for knowledge exchange with international communities and organizations. KISTEP also assists developing countries in establishing their own S&T master plans and developing S&T innovation capabilities.

Top 10 emerging technologies identified by KISTEP in the year 2020 are mentioned as under:

  1.  Real time health monitoring technology
  2.  High capacity long life batteries
  3.  Smart technology for natural disaster prediction and active integrated response
  4.  Real time high definition map
  5.  Real time monitoring and detection of machinery malfunctions
  6.  Personal information flow detection technology
  7.  Data authentication technology
  8.  Hyper realistic interaction technology that allows user experience virtual and real data by using wearable devices
  9.  Technology for building AI platform  with just few clicks
  10.  Explainable AI providing grounds of judgement.

At the moment, KISTEP is taking important initiatives to help develop technologies to drive 4th industrial revolution. Businesses which thrive on power of smart technologies, artificial intelligence, cloud computing and internet of things shall drive 4th industrial revolution.

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