Regional innovation partnerships set

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Regional innovation partnerships set

The nation’s major conglomerates plan to open joint innovation centers with regional governments as part of the central government’s initiative to nurture a creative economy.

Details of the program were revealed at a meeting of the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning and the Federation of Korean Industries yesterday in central Seoul.

Under the program, companies are matched with governments in regions where they have roots: Samsung Group with Daegu and North Gyeongsang, Hyundai Motor with Gwangju, Lotte Group with Busan and SK Group with Daejeon.

Fifteen member companies of the Federation of Korean Industries and 17 regional governments will participate.

The innovation centers will assist start-ups and tech entrepreneurs in each region with training in such areas as product development and commercialization. When technologies and products mature, the conglomerates will continue the support through investments and technology acquisition.

Google, software developer SAP and Israeli venture capital company Yozma Group recently announced plans to establish start-up training branches in Korea.

President Park Geun-hye has been pushing for tangible results from her creative economy campaign. “I hope these pairings form a mutually helpful relationship,” said Park at a recent cabinet meeting.

She added that conglomerates should share business networks and expertise with start-ups during their so-called death valley early stages.

Meanwhile, she said the conglomerates can be inspired by the creative ideas of start-ups.

“To make Korea a start-up nation, support for [start-ups] should spread beyond Seoul,” said Choi Yang-hee, minister of science, ICT and future planning.

Regional innovation centers in Busan, Incheon, Gwangju, Gyeonggi and South Gyeongsang will open by the end of this year, and centers in Gangwon, South and North Chungcheong, North and South Jeolla, and Daegu-North Gyeongsang will open by early next year.

Samsung Group, which started in Daegu as Samsung Sanghoe (now Samsung C&T), will open a software education center and start-up incubator at the site of the old Cheil Industries textile factory in the northern part of the city, according to municipal officials.

Because the Daegu city government operates an IT-based health care and medical equipment complex, the new innovation center will be involved in health care devices, which Samsung Group sees as a future growth engine.

Samsung and Daegu are scheduled to sign a memorandum of understanding for the project on Monday, according to city sources.

SK Telecom, the mobile carrier affiliate of SK Group, launched a contest earlier this week seeking 10 or so Daejeon-based IT start-ups and research institutes specializing in telecom infrastructure technologies, related equipment manufacturing and semiconductors. The nation’s largest telecom carrier will award the finalists spots at the joint innovation center and give each 20 million won, training and an opportunity to become an SK Telecom subcontractor.


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