Gov’t reveals plan for innovation-led growth

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Gov’t reveals plan for innovation-led growth

The government on Thursday laid out its innovation-led growth plan, a cornerstone of the Moon Jae-in administration’s economic policy, but was immediately hit by criticism that the blueprint was just a repackaged version of former President Park Geun-hye’s creative economy initiative.

The administration vowed to invest 2.2 trillion won ($2.02 billion) by 2022 on digital convergence by promoting core technologies including artificial intelligence, big data and robotics. The initiative, released by 21 ministries and related public institutions, also includes easing relevant regulations to allow for innovation.

While the overall policy direction is similar to the Park administration’s creative economy drive, the government tried to differentiate its plan by framing them as “people-centered.” The former government had put the emphasis on the “market.”

“If the policies make sense, it is right to succeed and further develop them even if they are from the past administration,” said Chang Byung-kyu, head of a special committee on the fourth industrial revolution set up by President Moon in October at a press briefing held Wednesday. “The policies may seem similar but it is meaningful in that we have put together a list of measures each ministry has to accomplish, and we hope to keep developing the measures.”

The plan, branded as I-Korea 4.0, promotes four I’s: intelligence, innovation, inclusiveness and interaction. Within these four areas are a wide range of sectors that the government plans to innovate.

In the manufacturing sector, the government said it will commercialize intelligent robots that can work with factory employees by 2019 and digitize factories to optimize production by 2022.

With smarter factories, like German sportswear maker Adidas’ SpeedFactory that has opened the possibility of the quick and customized production of shoes, the government hopes to help factories offer not only manufactured goods but also customized services.

As for unmanned vehicles like self-driving cars, ships and drones, the government will release a 10-year road map for technological innovation next month to enable the commercialization of quasi-autonomous cars by 2020 and the initial operation of self-driving ships by 2022.

In the logistics sector, which has been rapidly transforming due to a surge in online commerce, the government plans to promote the construction of smart logistics centers operated with cargo handling robots by 2022. The measure is expected to speed up cargo handling by 33 percent.

The construction of smart cities is also one of the key growth engines highlighted in the road map. By 2022, the government plans to have 80 cities operating on an integrated smart city platform.

As for removing regulations, the government will expand the implementation of regulatory sandboxes that allows businesses to test innovative products and services in the market, starting with convergence businesses like financial technology, or fintech.

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