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South Korea to boost joint research with Indonesia

Publication Date : 06-08-2012


After forging a strong partnership in the trade, investment, defense and energy sectors, South Korea wants to strengthen its cooperation with Indonesia in the area of science and technology (S&T) by conducting joint research and sharing infrastructure, says a top South Korean official.

"We need to strengthen cooperation in science and technology to tackle the common issues of our countries. We have to establish new R&D [research and development] networks and share our infrastructure," Kim Doh-yeon, the chairman of the National Science and Technology Commission (NSTC) of Korea, told The Jakarta Post last week in Jakarta.

"I think the first step would be conducting joint research on various topics and sharing infrastructure."

But it will be a good opportunity for Indonesia, a country where education is in a poor state. Indonesia, according to Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan, is currently has only 14,000 people with PhD degrees and half of them work for the government. In comparison, based on NSTC figures, South Korea at present has 350,000 researchers.

The NSTC, Kim said, was established by Korean President Lee Myung-bak in March 2011 to formulate and coordinate national S&T policies regarding new technologies in general and to develop green technology and biotechnology areas in particular.

"In an effort to enhance the efficiency of R&D investment, the NSTC makes plans, allocates funds and evaluates R&D projects," Kim said.

South Korea is one of the world's top spenders on R&D. For example, Kim added, this year's Korean budget for R&D was US$15 billion, 5 per cent of Korea’s total budget for 2012.

According to the 2012 Global R&D Funding Forecast, a list jointly prepared and published by Battelle and the R&D magazine, the world will spend some $1.4 trillion on R&D this year, up from $1.33 trillion last year.

The South Korean government and private sector would spend some $56.4 billion on research development in 2012, which makes the country the fifth-biggest spender in the world. The other four-biggest spenders are the US ($436 billion), China ($198.9 billion), Japan ($157.6 billion) and Germany ($90.6 billion).

When asked specifically about why Korea wants to cooperate with Indonesia, the largest economy in Southeast Asia but smallest spender on R&D, Kim said the archipelagic nation had huge potential in the area of R&D. Indonesia is expected to spend just $2.4 billion on R&D, 0.2 per cent of its GDP, in 2012.

"Indonesia is a country with great potential and a large number of young people, some of which are smart and energetic. It has enormous natural resources and rich biodiversity. Korea would like to be a partner of Indonesia in R&D," Kim said.

Both countries, Kim said, had already established the Korea-Indonesia Biological Material Research Centre ( a collaboration between the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience & Biotechnology and the Indonesian Assessment and Application of Technology Agency—BPPT) and a bio-ethanol plant (by the Korea Institute of Science and Technology and the Indonesian Institute of Sciences).


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