The South Korean government has announced ambitious plans to invest KRW 3.5 trillion (US$ 2.8 billion) annually in scale-up research and development (R&D) by 2027 to nurture ten unicorn companies in the deep-tech field.
The Ministry of Science and ICT announced the ‘pan-ministerial scale-up R&D investment strategy’ at a recent video conference, outlining plans to invest KRW 15 trillion over five years (2023-2027) to create ten deep-tech unicorn companies.
The strategy includes expanding participation in the private sector, strengthening pan-governmental cooperation, diversifying business support methods, and supporting ecosystems.
The government will focus funding on innovative companies within three years of founding.
It will establish a scale-up national technology strategy center to analyze current R&D investment and strengthen investment strategies.
A customized corporate R&D support system based on innovative capabilities will also be established, and the cost burden on companies will be reduced by introducing postpaid, competitive, and voucher-type R&D projects.
Additionally, the government plans to nurture an industry-academia-research scale-up valley in which regional research institutes, government-funded research institutes, and companies strengthen cooperation centered on regional-based universities.
This move by the South Korean government comes as deep-tech companies are receiving increased attention globally. Boston Consulting Group predicts that global deep tech investment will reach $140 billion by 2025, concentrating on synthetic biology, new materials, and artificial intelligence.
While South Korea has a high startup rate, its survival rate of 63.6% is lower than that of Japan, the UK, and the US.
The Ministry of Science and ICT stated that this plan is an attempt to “leap forward as a scale-up powerhouse based on our R&D achievements and innovation capabilities” and to foster global unicorn companies.