Samsung’s goal: Nobel for Korea

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Samsung’s goal: Nobel for Korea

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Samsung said yesterday it is establishing a research foundation next month with a budget of 1.5 trillion won ($1.35 billion) over 10 years with a view to spearhead technology development in the areas of basic science, materials engineering, and information and communications technology (ICT) projects. The goal is to help produce Korea’s first Nobel Prize winner in science.

The goals of the new foundation coincide with the Park Geun-hye administration’s key initiative stressing the importance of science and technology. Toward that end the government founded a brand-new arm - the Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning.

The Samsung Research Foundation, to start operation this year, “aims to contribute to building and strengthening the infrastructure for innovation and future technology development for the benefit of the broader society and economy, at a time when cultivating new growth engines for the future has become a critical agenda,” said Samsung in a release. The foundation will be headed by Professor Choi Yanghee at Seoul National University’s School of Computer Science and Engineering.

“Cutthroat technology competition is currently under way around the world and Korea is also in desperate need of future preparation,” Rhee In-yong, president and chief of the communications team at Samsung, told the press yesterday. “We are establishing a foundation to systematically support growth and not to end up merely donating cash or making a one-shot investment.”

The foundation, to model after W.M. Keck - an American charitable foundation supporting scientific, engineering and medical research - will run three programs with respective long-term initiatives: supporting fostering of Nobel Prize winners, future material development and ICT convergence.

Samsung will earmark 300 billion won for the foundation for this year and another 450 billion won will be funded from 2014 through 2017. After going through a replenishing process, an additional 750 billion won will be granted over the following five years.

The Samsung Research Foundation will support commercialization of some research results should they show the business potential. The basic premise, though, is that R&D results belong to the researchers, thus encouraging them to do their best. The foundation will make a public notification of the programs next month, accept applications by July and start providing funds in November.


By Seo Ji-eun [spring@joongang.co.kr]

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