Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Korea's narrow nanotech convergence policy

The phenomenon of convergence is a broad and complex one that touches on virtually all economic and social sectors in every modern economy. For example, back in 2000, the United States launched the National Nanotechnology Initiative, and that organization's website comprises an interesting introduction to the subject.  Another interesting place to start is the European Nanotechnology Gateway.
This morning's Joongang Daily carried an article on the topic of nano convergence in Korea.  As noted in the article,"The government will invest nearly 1 trillion won ($923 billion) to boost nanotechnology companies and their convergence with other industries so Korea can more than double its share of the global market by 2020, according to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy."Korean researchers have been working on nanotechnology in a variety of industries including electronics, biotechnology, medicine and engineering.
What I find interesting is that the article and, by extension, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy(MKE), treat convergence as a silo or vertical process affecting different industries. However, there is no attention to the obvious reality that a broader, horizontal process of convergence represented by revolutionary developments in digital networks and associated communications and sensing technologies is at work and would seem to deserve even more attention from the MKE.  Arguably, the biggest impact of nanotech convergence is going to be in electronics and telecommunications and the ICT sector, those general purpose technologies that give rise to the new global information era.

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