Thursday, August 24, 2017

Korea's new push in semiconductors

As reported by the Korea IT News and other industry sources, South Korea is planning to begin a national semiconductor R&D project that  will require funding on the order of  $2.2 billion (2.5 trillion KRW), with a goal of gaining the upper hand in next-generation semiconductor industries and maintaining Korea's position as a leading producer of semiconductors.  The Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT, formerly Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning MSIP)  and Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) are currently planning for the R&D project, which will have a duration of 10 years.
The rationale for this new program includes the observation that semiconductors are currently this nation's largest export. The Korea IT News article notes that “Because semiconductor is a number one export item of South Korea, it is a major industry that supports South Korea’s economy.” said a representative for a government research institute that is participating in this planning. “South Korean Government is making such decision because it believes that it needs decisive investments into R&D in order to separate its gap from its competitors such as China.”
The project will be carried out from the second half of 2018.  Furthermore, the report explains that the project is large divided into AI (Artificial Intelligence), IoT (Internet of Things), and equipment and materials related to production of next-generation semiconductors and will cover development of fundamental technologies and commercialized technologies. While fundamental technologies will be managed by the Ministry of Science and ICT(MSIT), commercialized technologies will be managed by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE).
As many prior posts in this blog have noted, semiconductors are a central technology for the digital era and Korea's success in this industry stems from crucial policy decisions made in 1980-81.

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