Tech forum tackles competitiveness

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Tech forum tackles competitiveness

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From left, Lee Il-houng, Lee Hee-gook, moderator Chung Joon-yang, former CEO of Posco, and Kim Do-hoon participate in a panel discussion at the Korea Leaders Forum hosted by the National Academy of Engineering of Korea yesterday at the Westin Chosun Hotel in central Seoul. Provided by the institute

In highly competitive technology-based industries, Korea needs to focus on quick development of unique value-added products and services, said Lee Hee-gook, president of the LG Corporation Technology Council. In the process, he said, the country needs to cooperate with its neighbors to gain access to their best technologies.

Lee was one of three panelists at the Korea Leaders Forum hosted by the National Academy of Engineering of Korea at the Westin Chosun Hotel in central Seoul yesterday to discuss approaches Korea should take to stimulate its economy and industrial growth.

Other panelists were Lee Il-houng, president of the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy, and Kim Do-hoon, president of the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade.

“Two keywords for Korea in revitalizing its growth, I think, are added-value and open innovation,” Lee said. “The only way to survive in such a competitive industrial landscape is to produce quality products and services with high added value and introduce them first. Here is where open innovation comes in.”

Lee cited the smartphone to explain the significance of open innovation. “This small device contains hundreds of technologies,” he said. To the former chief technology officer of LG Electronics, the most significant factor is the time it takes to bring a new product to the market.

“When two competitors have similarly attractive products in both quality and price, the company that releases the product first wins,” he said. “If a company tries to roll out a product made solely with its own technologies, it surely becomes a loser. ”

Lee pointed out that he - like many Korean companies - never approached companies in China and Japan because the three countries are competitors in so many areas.

Korean companies, including LG, hired many Chinese and Japanese workers, but mostly in manufacturing positions instead of research and development.

However, Lee emphasized Koreans should change their mind-set to pursue open innovation, because the potential benefits far outweigh the losses.

“While still competing in some areas, the three countries will see many industries in which they benefit from expanding product and technology trading with each other, because the countries each end up specializing in a particular area and complementing each other,” he said.

Kim, president of the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade, picked the parts and material industries as two key areas where Korea currently excels, saying research needs to continue as China and Japan are increasingly relying on Korean-made core auto parts.

“Korea should keep strengthening quality competitiveness to make China and Japan two loyal customers of our parts and materials,” he said.

Lee Il-houng, a former economist at the International Monetary Fund, pointed out that Korea should make sure to develop its unique value-added technologies as manufacturing-based, export-oriented growth strategy does not work anymore.

Korean production of value-added technologies is no longer sustainable, he said

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




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