Korea this year ranks eighth in global digital competitiveness according to the Switzerland-based International Institute for Management Development (IMD). (IMD homepage)

By Kim Hyelin and Yoon Sojung

Korea ranks eighth this year in digital competitiveness, up two notches from last year.

The Ministry of Science and ICT on Oct. 3 said Korea this year placed eighth among 63 countries in digital competitiveness as ranked by the Switzerland-based International Institute for Management Development (IMD).

The country has steadily risen on the list over the last few years, going from 19th in 2017 to 14th in 2018 and tenth last year.

The IMD rankings measure a country's capacity and preparedness in 52 detailed criteria under the three factors of knowledge, technology and future readiness.

The U.S. finished No. 1 and Singapore second on this year's list, the same as in last year. Denmark ranked third, followed by Sweden, Hong Kong, Switzerland and the Netherlands. China placed 16th and Japan 27th.  

Korea showed overall improvement by earning higher scores in all three factors.

Korea ranked third in future readiness, up a notch from last year, thanks to its top scores in e-participation and internet retailing under the adaptive attitudes section. The category measures a country's readiness in digital transition.

In technology, Korea ranked 12th, up five notches from last year and mainly led by having the world's second-fastest broadband speed. The category measures capacity for digital innovation development.

In the knowledge section that gauges the capacity for understanding, discovering and expanding new technology, Korea ranked 10th, up from 11th from last year, thanks to high scores in expenditures on research and development (R&D) and R&D personnel per capita.

The ministry said in a news release, ''Through cooperation with other government ministries, we will improve weaker indexes such as those on technology development and adaptation, fostering female researchers and investment in the communications sector.''



Vice Minister of Science and ICT Kim Sung-soo on Jan. 6 gives a speech in a briefing session on inter-governmental cooperation in R&D projects this year at Soongsil University in Seoul.

By Kim Young Deok and Lee Jihae
Photos = Ministry of Science and ICT

The government this year has set a record-high budget of KRW 24.2 trillion for research and development (R&D), up 18% from last year's amount, pledging to do its best to lay the foundation for sustainable development.

Eleven government branches including the Ministry of Science and ICT and the Ministry of Education scheduled briefing sessions on such cooperation on Jan. 6 and 8 in Seoul and on Jan. 20 and 22 in Daejeon to announce details of the administration's R&D plans.

"This year's government budget for R&D project was expanded to a record high of KRW 24.2 trillion," Vice Science and ICT Minister Kim Sung-soo said in the Jan. 6 briefing held at Soongsil University in Seoul.

He said that through R&D, the government and the science and technology sector are "strongly determined" to prepare for uncertainty in the future and expand the foundation for sustainable development.

The Science Ministry said the government will focus on four R&D tasks: bolstering science and technology capabilities, enhancing economic vitality, investing in innovative growth strategies and improving quality of life. Small and mid-size businesses related to basic research and R&D will receive more aid. Systems to prepare for and guard against disasters and contingencies and improve quality of living will also be expanded.

Large-scale customized projects such as the domestic production of strategic core materials will also press ahead in response to Japan's export restrictions on Korea placed last year.

"The government will invest more than KRW 5 trillion by 2022 in the domestic production of core materials and components necessary for R&D projects," said Choi Do-young, director of the ministry's R&D Investment Coordination Bureau.

"The budget for R&D projects will increase to about KRW 31 trillion by 2023."

He added, "We will make various efforts and target results to expand the budget and meet its expectations."


Korea on Jan. 22 was announced as the world’s most innovative country by the Bloomberg Innovative Index. (Screen capture from Bloomberg website)

Korea on Jan. 22 was announced as the world's most innovative country by the Bloomberg Innovative Index. (Screen capture from Bloomberg website)

By Oh Hyun-woo and Kim Minji 

Korea has topped for the sixth straight year the Bloomberg Innovative Index as the world's most innovative nation.

Bloomberg News on Jan. 22 said the country maintained the No. 1 spot with an 87.38 score in the 2019 Bloomberg Innovation Index, which ranks innovation by a country's spending as a percentage of GDP on R&D intensity, manufacturing value-added, productivity, high-tech density, tertiary efficiency, researcher concentration and patent activity. 

Korea ranked second in R&D intensity and manufacturing value-added, fourth in high-tech density, and seventh in tertiary efficiency and researcher concentration. 

"In the Bloomberg Index, Germany almost caught six-time champion South Korea on the strength of added-value from manufacturing and research intensity," the report said.

"Although South Korea extended its winning streak, its lead narrowed in part because of lower scores in patent activity."

The Ministry of Economy and Finance said, "Korea retained such high scores thanks to the joint efforts of the government and corporations to continue expanding R&D investment and pushing forward economic policies for innovation-driven growth, despite harsh economic conditions home and abroad." 

The country's R&D expenditures as a percentage of GDP was 4.55 percent, one of the world's highest. In 2017, Korea ranked fifth in R&D spending.


UlalaLAB, an IoT development company, raised $2 million during its Series A, led by STIC Investment and MAGNA Investment. The lead investor in this round is one of the top venture capital firms in South Korea.


Smart Factory developer ulalaLAB raises $2M in Series A to strengthen its R&D and accelerate market expansion



Founded in 2011 as K-ICT Born2Global Centre's member company, ulalaLAB has since refocused its technological capabilities and grown into the most recognized Smart Factory Platform provider in South Korea with ever expanding local and international customer and partner portfolio. Now, it's raised Series A round to strengthen its technological capabilities through more R&D in AI and other areas, as well as to expand further in overseas market.


Smart Factory developer ulalaLAB raises $2M in Series A to strengthen its R&D and accelerate market expansion


Along with its angel and seed financing, the Series A brings ulalaLAB's total funding to about $3 million so far. ulalaLAB says its goal is to solve SME's manufacturing problems by providing cost effective, easy-to-implement solutions that effectively combine innovative technologies with humans at the center of everything.


ulalaLAB's WimFactory platform enables SMEs and even large enterprise manufacturers to digitalize their production, enabling factories to gain instant access to real time data by capturing, analyzing and displaying operations data from all types of sensors surrounding the production line, even in old and outdated equipment, allowing better and more informed decision making.


Hakju Kang, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of ulalaLAB said, "The time was right for ulalaLAB to raise again because its WimFactory platform is already implemented in dozens of SMEs and Large factories in South Korea and with ever increasing demand from abroad - overseas markets cannot wait."


Nike and Adidas shoes OEM/ODM factories in Vietnam, Indonesia and mainland China already implemented the WimFactory platform in their everyday operations. ulalaLAB recently signed $16 million overseas export deal to expand the business further into Taiwan, mainland China, Thailand and Indonesia markets.


ulalaLAB is focusing now more on predictive maintenance, developing and implementing more advanced algorithms to detect abnormalities in production early on. Besides that, the company is dedicated to making its platform as easy to implement and operate as possible.


For more detailed information on ulalaLAB, visit www.ulalalab.com





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