The South Korean government is set to allocate over 1 trillion won towards global research and development (R&D) collaboration. The Ministry of Science and ICT disclosed the global R&D agenda for the upcoming year during the '2023 International Joint Research Symposium of Excellent Overseas Research Institutions' on Monday.
This year's global R&D budget stands at approximately 500 billion won, accounting for 1.6% of the total R&D budget. This percentage is notably lower than other countries such as Italy (7.1%) and the U.K. (5.3%). To address this discrepancy, the Ministry of Science and ICT has outlined plans to increase next year's global R&D investment to 1.8 trillion won, constituting about 7% of the total R&D budget. A significant portion of this--1.08 trillion won--will be strategically allocated to key national technology sectors, including bio, artificial intelligence (AI), quantum, and semiconductors.
The Ministry of Science and ICT aims to create institutional mechanisms enabling the active participation of overseas research institutes in international joint research initiatives. People Power Party lawmaker Kim Young-sik has advocated enacting the 'Act on Cooperation in Science and Technology Between Countries.' This proposed legislation includes provisions to streamline national R&D promotion procedures for international collaborations and acknowledges foreign organizations as domestic R&D lead entities. An official from the Ministry of Science and ICT expressed optimism, stating, "We anticipate the passage of this law within the year and are preparing guidelines for international cooperation accordingly."
Critics have voiced concerns about a potential surge in 'hasty planning' as the government markedly enlarges the global R&D budget. This criticism revolves around instances where research institutes rush to incorporate foreign researchers or international institutions, they have ties to. In response, the Ministry of Science and ICT clarified, stating, "It is not mandatory to include foreign researchers in all global R&D projects," and assured that a flexible approach would be adopted, allowing for diverse forms of collaboration based on the specifics of each project.