Industry and academia team upMarket research company Gartner predicted that AI may eliminate 1.8 million jobs but add 2.3 million new jobs by year 2020. New industries based on technologies such as AI, blockchain, cloud, next-generation mobile and 3-D printing are creating jobs that never existed before. The entities that use the technology for business and create job are companies. The technological competitiveness of companies to respond to changes and acquire necessary technologies is increasingly important.
Solutions to enhance the technological competitiveness of companies can be found from industry-university-research collaboration. Universities and research institutes have an annual R&D budget of 15 trillion won ($14.1 billion) and have 293,000 technologies, 139,000 researchers and 59,000 pieces of equipment. When the public research and development capacity leads to technology start-up, new business creation and enhancement of products through cooperation with companies, it will bring quality new jobs in science and technology.
However, Korean companies have low R&D cooperation openness. According to the World Economic Forum, the industry-academia research cooperation of Korea is ranked at 26th place in 2015, much lower than the fifth place for the research and development funding. The portion of universities’ use in corporate R&D was reduced from 2.4 percent in 2000 to 1.5 percent in 2015. Only 10.7 percent of small and medium-sized companies have intellectual property in 2015, and the knowledge transfer between industries and universities is 32nd among 63 economies in the world.
Industry-academia collaboration is needed for innovative growth. Firstly, demand-oriented industry-university-research institute cooperation system should be established. The cooperation should be centered on the users by setting up a system of gathering opinions of the companies and reflecting industrial demands on the R&D and commercialization process. Secondly, support strategies according to companies’ technology innovation capacity is needed. There should be a system to provide support based on comprehensive analysis of innovative technology capacity. Thirdly, an ecosystem of horizontal and open innovation should be established. In addition to an integrated information network, expansion of human exchanges and active industry-university-research institute clusters, the will to cooperate based on mutual trust is most important.
*Executive director of Korea Industrial Technology Association