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By Youri van Elsland
November 5 – 7, 2019
Korea has been ranked as the most innovative country in the world by Bloomberg for six consecutive years. During Invest Korea Week, government officials dove deeper into the underlying principles and support systems that have kept the country on top. Business infrastructures, foreign trade agreements, benefits and incentives, and ongoing efforts to foster relations with other businesses and countries were cited as some of the reasons.
Foreign direct investments (FDI) in Korea have grown steadily from US$12.5 billion in 2012 to $26.9 billion in 2018, and the goal of Invest Korea Week is to make sure the FDI will continue this trajectory. The government-run event supports the entry and establishment of foreign businesses in Korea, working alongside the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy to attract investors by offering cash grants, site support, matching support, and more.
One of the core focuses of the Korean government is 5G technology and for a good reason. The 2019 5G market is worth $7 billion and is projected to be $997 billion by 2026. It is the core infrastructure of the 4th Industrial Revolution, and Korea aims for a global market share of 15% in 2026.
Invest Korea Week started with an opening ceremony where the keynote speaker, Korea University President Jin Taek Chung, showcased the educational standards of the country. He stressed the fact that Korea has one of the highest college graduation rates in the world. The day progressed with multiple sessions, where more information about the business environment was shared. The day ended with attendees networking alongside Korean wine and food.
The next two days were dedicated to site visits to give attendees a taste of the business environment and products that are being developed. At the Korean Technology (KT) Lab, where employees develop and test 5G related products, organizers revealed the impressive 5G technologies that are being produced.
The products included a new 3D Alexa that would move as you spoke to her, and a new feature for televisions in which specific broadcasts can be shown in a matrix view (i.e., from all angles, slowing down and speeding up the frames that appear on the television). There was also a sound doctor, which uses AI and sound to notify an alteration or defect in a machine.
The cockpit of a 5G-connected car was stationed in another room; the car notices when the driver is unwell and reacts by notifying an ambulance and driving to a meetup point. Autonomous driving is mainly tested and developed in the autonomous driving center, where entrepreneurs are developing the zero shuttle service–South Korea’s first-ever driverless vehicle to be produced by a municipality–and other autonomous related products.
The week ended with a tour in the Gyeonggi Startuplab, where different startups presented their products and services and took a tour around the Digital Media City (DMC)–a state-of-the-art digital media entertainment cluster.
The purpose of the week was promoting Korea as an investment-worthy country–so did the organizers succeed? The low rate of English proficiency inhibited the speakers, tour guides, and other participants to fully express themselves. However, it was clear to attendees that the organizers are very invested in keeping Korea at the top of innovation efforts and are proud of their country’s accomplishments. For all these reasons, Invest Korea Week can soundly be considered a success.