Korea tops EU innovation chart

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Korea tops EU innovation chart

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As President Park Geun-hye continues to emphasize innovation as a way to strengthen the country, Korea has been ranked No. 1 overall by the Innovation Union Scoreboard of the European Commission.

According to the ranking released Tuesday,?Korea outperformed the United States, Japan, European Union and Canada. The 28 European Union members and 10 other countries - including Korea, Japan, China, Russia and India - were also ranked.

The innovation index was based on the average of 25 indicators rated between 0 and 1. However, nonmembers of the union were evaluated only on 12 indicators due to availability of data. Korea scored 0.74, slightly ahead of the United States (0.736) and Japan (0.711). The European Union’s average was 0.63.

Using 100 as a baseline to represent the European Union’s average score, Korea trailed the EU until 2008, but has seen steady improvement since. The country scored 117 last year to tie with the United States.

The index?was?largely based on indicators in three areas: talents, investments and R&D projects; corporate activities in R&D and patents; and results of R&D, including commercialization and revenues.

Korea did well in inputting financial and human resources to R&D and producing outputs in large quantity. Korea’s spending on R&D projects in private companies (213) was more than twice the level of the EU, and R&D spending in state-run research projects was 118.

The country also showed large numbers of patents and papers co-produced by researchers in private and state-run institutes. And it scored well in the percentage of the population with college degrees, but did poorly in the number of doctorate degree holders.

Meanwhile, Korea’s R&D results were not well received by the international science and technology community, based on frequency of citations, according to the report. The country scored the lowest, recording 52, in revenues earned through technology trade and patent income.

“It is true that our focus was mostly on quantitative achievements, such as the size of investments and number of papers produced. After reviewing the report, we came to realize once again that we should shift the focus to raising the quality of R&D projects,” said an official from the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning.

The official mentioned the ministry’s plans to reform academic paper assessment criteria, from numbers of papers written to international frequency of citation.

“We will make Korea competent on the global stage in science and technology by boosting technology transfers of our R&D results while making progress on policy reforms, especially on commercialization of technologies and intellectual properties,” said Minister Choi Mun-kee.

As part of such efforts, the ministry yesterday held a patent commission meeting and announced a goal to foster 30 patent-owning private and public institutions by 2017, compared to 17 in 2012. The commission emphasized that it will assist small and midsize companies to produce a larger share of patents. According to a 2012 study, of the 17 companies and institutions that owned patents, three, including Samsung Electronics and the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI), were dominant. The ministry and tech conglomerates will assist small and midsize ventures to obtain patents on their technologies and commercialize them.

BY KIM JI-YOON [jiyoon.kim@joongang.co.kr]


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