Nanotech to get 1 trillion won boost as top 3 status eyed

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Nanotech to get 1 trillion won boost as top 3 status eyed

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The government will invest nearly 1 trillion won ($923 billion) to boost nanotechnology companies and their convergence with other industries so Korea can more than double its share of the global market by 2020, according to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.

The goal is to commercialize parts of the industry and expand the presence of nano technology in a variety of industries, the ministry said in explaining its so-called Nano Plus 2020 project yesterday during the opening of Nano Convergence Week 2012.

Nanotechnology is gaining attention as a future growth industry because changes made at the level of nanoparticles can enhance the quality of products. Changes in the nanoparticles of semiconductors, for example, allow chips the same size to store more data or process data at a faster rate.

Korean researchers have been working on nanotechnology in a variety of industries including electronics, biotechnology, medicine and engineering.

“To stimulate the local manufacturing industry, which has been struggling recently, and give it another growth push, we think that nanotechnology convergence is crucial,” said Kim Jae-hong at the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.

The global market is expected to grow at an average rate of 18 percent a year, which would take it to $2.5 trillion in 2020 from $628 billion last year, the ministry said. Korea accounted for 4.5 percent of the world market last year, worth $28.2 billion. It is targeting 10 percent by 2020.

Although the government has invested over 2 trillion won in this area over the last decade, it has yet to succeed in commercializing any nanotechnology. “It has not yet reached the level where it can create greater added value for industries or the domestic economy,” the ministry wrote in a report, adding that more support measures are needed at a government level.

To make Korea one of the world’s top three players in the global nanotechnology market, the ministry said it plans to have over 20 SMEs study ways of creating a strong synergy effect in this field across a range of industries.

These companies are tasked with achieving combined sales of $100 million from goods or services related to nanotechnology by 2020, with 30 percent deriving from exports, it said,

Of the total investment of 930 billion won, 650 billion won will come from the national government’s budget, while 280 billion won will come from private companies or local district offices. If all goes to plan, more than 50,000 new jobs will be created in this field by 2020, the ministry added.

By Lee Sun-min [summerlee@joongang.co.kr]

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