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[Column] Three Prerequisites for Science and Technology Power

Updated: Dec 7, 2022

Elon Musk, the richest man in the world, is always in the media spotlight. It was the same when selling the payment system PayPal, when creating Space X, which launches satellites into space, and when creating the electric vehicle Tesla. This time, it surprised people by paying 63 trillion won to take over Twitter. Elon Musk is in the spotlight because he always makes difficult things successfully. He challenges difficult tasks that others are reluctant to do and eventually achieves success. Such entrepreneurs are not common in the world.

Elon Musk has made great achievements in various fields where science is applied, including IT, aerospace, physics, bio, and automobiles. If we pay attention to Elon Musk's successful case, we might find a way for Korea to become a scientific powerhouse. Through Elon Musk's success story, we propose three ways to get to this science and technology powerhouse. First, implement a fostering policy centered on small and medium-sized venture companies, not large companies. Second, challenge private-led economic growth by strengthening the activities of excellent private organizations. Third, it is a firm belief in the importance of science and technology to national leaders.

Many entrepreneurs in Korea have

Korea is still in the shadow of the glory of industrialization. Most of the Korean conglomerates have grown under the leadership of the government. It is extremely difficult to find startup ventures like those in the United States companies. Elon Musk and his younger brother Kimbal Musk founded Zip 2, the first company, and earned $22 million (28.9 billion won). With this seed money, he founded, the predecessor of PayPal. There are many entrepreneurs in Korea who have created tens of billions of corporate value with small funds. However, none of such entrepreneurs have created companies like Tesla or SpaceX. The environment should be created so that there are many cases where small and medium-sized companies become large-complex wealthiest, but the reality is in the gutter.

It is said that one out of four startups is considering overseas relocation due to domestic regulations. The Yoon Suk Yeol government is also proposing regulatory reforms like previous governments. The problem is the "don't ask" regulations pouring out of the National Assembly. According to the National Assembly's bill information system and the Korea Federation of Industry Forum, the number of bills proposed by lawmakers increased 3.7 times from 5,728 in the 17th National Assembly to 21,594 in the 20s. In the 21st generation, 14,144 cases were recorded in the first half alone, up 17.3% from the first half of the 20th National Assembly. There were 1,359 cases in which legislative legislation was finally enacted or revised in the 20th National Assembly. Among them, 203 bills included regulation. The figure is 16.7 percent of the total bill.

Attention should be paid again to the "negative method regulatory reform plan" promoted by the Park Geun Hye government in the past. The main focus of the harmful method adopted by advanced countries such as Germany is to "do everything possible except what is not possible." The Korean National Assembly continues to create conditions companies must meet to work. The more conditions entrepreneurs have to meet, the more they cannot focus on their businesses.

The economic ecosystem is like a giant creature. Depending on what kind of environment it creates, corporate farming can be a good harvest or a poor harvest. Well-made private companies can lead innovative projects that the government dare not touch. If the private sector does better in government-organized projects with more challenging regulatory reforms like Space x, the government and the private sector can create greater synergy. The administration is not the only problem that can be solved by working hard. The administration, the legislature, and the ruling and opposition parties should work together to immediately come up with a solution to the problem of industrial regulation.

A national leader's firm belief in the importance of science and technology is really important. The U.S. has a ministerial science and technology policy bureau (OSTP) in the White House. As a presidential institution, it supports, advises, and manages science and technology-related projects conducted in the United States. The Presidential Advisory Committee on Science and Technology, which is affiliated with the Science and Technology Policy Bureau, consists of some of the top industry-academic experts in the U.S. in science, and the president is responsible for collecting opinions from the science and technology community while directly communicating with all the members.

South Korea also has a national science and technology advisory council chaired by the president. I have also served as a member of the organization. The president should take care of science-related issues because the top decision-maker primarily controls Korean civil service organizations. There is no chief secretary for science in the presidential office, and he is one of six under the senior secretary for economic affairs. State bodies dealing with science should show a mid to long-term vision. The president should check directly if he is buried in the issue of life and receive formal reports on what the bureaucrats have collected. A firm belief in the importance of the science and technology of national leaders is needed more than ever.

Columnist Kim Kwang-sun's bio

1st President of Chungcheongnam-do Science and Technology Promotion Agency

Former President of the Korean Society for Engineering Education

Former President of the Korea Association of Industry Association, Acadey and Research Institute

Honorary President of the Semiconductor Display Technology Society of Korea

Former Korean Representative of the International Semiconductor Equipment Material Association Standardization Committee

American Society of Mechanical Engineering Fellow.

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