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[Opinion] University Enterprises

Posted December. 26, 2006 07:25,   


Tsinghua Tongfang Co. and Tsinghua Unisplendour Co., established by Tsinghua University in China, are members of a university enterprise group, Tsinghua Group, with their total assets amounting to 2.6 billion dollars. High technologies developed by the talents in Tsinghua University in China are transferred to them and commercialized from then on. They have stronger competitiveness than global companies, with 2,000 professors participating in their R&D and 6,000 personnel with either M.A. or Ph.D degrees. Earnings are returned to the professors and students as their bonus, solidifying school finances at the same time. China has as many as 5,000 university enterprises. No wonder some say universities lead the way in China.

Based on the model of China, Korea has launched university enterprises in 2004. Last year’s revenues amounted to 6.5 billion won in net profits, and one billion won from a total of 40 universities. “DongSeo Film” established by Dongseo University generated revenues worth 600 million won by providing media contents. Daeduk College’s “Robotics” sold toy robots worth 200 million won. The school explains that the corporate image as “a school enterprise” contributes to sales. This year its number in Korea increased to 50, still a far cry from Chinese university enterprises reaping annual revenues of 10 trillion won.

However its unquantifiable “benefits” are not small at all. University enterprises generated 164 jobs last year, a small and yet big achievement. Kyungnam College of Information & Technology’s “Shoe KIT” is ready to export its products abroad as the first university enterprise by producing bathroom shoes. This is a fruit of successful development of new differentiated materials by professors, gaining high appraisal. Its expected ripple effects throughout the regional economy grab attention, but at the same time the fact universities are starting to realize the importance of utilizing science and technology and human resources is a major breakthrough.

University enterprises currently have 7,000 students in their on-site training. In fact, Korean students are mostly laymen in economics and management mindsets, born with a silver spoon in their mouth. Bill Gates who found the company in his 20s advised to youngsters, “A school doesn’t distinguish between a winner and a loser, but society is vastly different.” University enterprise experiences “enrich” students’ lives. At a time when Korean young people delay proceeding their career, worrying their parents, a university enterprise is ever more significant.

Hong Chan-sik, Editorial Writer, chansik@donga.com