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Korea to invest W24.7tr in science R&D next year

Budget focused on strategic technologies, carbon neutrality, digital transformation

June 28, 2022 - 15:13 By Kan Hyeong-woo
The South Korean government will invest 24.7 trillion won ($19.2 billion) into the country’s research and development efforts in 2023, a 1.7 percent increase on year, the Ministry of Science and ICT said Tuesday.

According to the ministry, the R&D budget is focused on the three pillars of strengthening strategic investment for developing core technologies, working towards carbon neutrality and achieving digital transformation.

The ministry said it plans to invest a total of 1.1 trillion won, a 7.7 percent increase on year, into supporting the core technologies of semiconductor, display, secondary battery, next-generation nuclear energy, hydrogen and 5G, 6G networks. The semiconductor and display sectors will receive almost 500 billion won, close to half of the total spending in the core technologies.

In particular, state investment in next-generation nuclear power technology will increase to 29.7 billion won, about a 50 percent increase on year. Last week, President Yoon Suk-yeol vowed to revive the country’s nuclear power industry, calling the previous Moon Jae-in administration’s nuclear inactivating policies “foolish.”

“As this is the first year of the Yoon administration’s R&D budget, we will faithfully implement the new government’s state affairs based on R&D investment and join forces with related ministries to support economic growth so that the public can feel the impact of these achievements,” said Joo Young-chang, vice minister for science, technology, and innovation at the Science Ministry.

The ministry will also pour in a bigger bulk of 2.4 trillion won to secure future-challenging scientific technologies in the sectors of biopharmaceuticals, aerospace, artificial intelligence, robot and cybersecurity.

In order to foster future R&D talent and support basic science studies, over 3 trillion won will be allocated for next year’s investment plan. The ministry will also inject 1.57 trillion won to accelerate the growth of small and medium enterprises as well as startups.

The government will invest a total of 4.7 trillion won to speed up the eco-friendly transition to achieve carbon neutrality and spur digital transformation by supporting essential sectors including blockchain and the metaverse.

The Science Ministry said the Ministry of Economy and Finance will be notified of the 2023 national R&D budget plan by Thursday. The Finance Ministry will confirm the science R&D budget along with R&D financing plans for other areas such as the humanities and social sciences before handing over the proposed plan to the National Assembly in September.