The Korean government has announced that it will invest nearly $4 billion of its 2020 annual budget on innovation and technology to bolster South Korean companies’ efforts in the global markets. These investments are viewed as a smart way to increase research and development and infrastructure as well as economic growth.

“The planned investment will, at first, contribute to infrastructure for the nation’s data, 5G network and AI projects,” Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said during a cabinet meeting in August. “The government will then financially support system semiconductors, bio-health tech firms and carmakers to help with their innovative growth.”

The investment comes in light of increased global competition and international trade pressures from both inside and outside the Asian Pacific region. It also follows President Moon Jae-in’s July announcement of the government’s expansion of support for innovative growth in the nation’s manufacturing sector to nurture globally competitive start-up businesses.

Deputy Prime Minister stated that the government would offer small- and mid-sized companies financial vouchers as part of this investment. The intent is to assist in their identification and purchasing of solutions to their technology challenges, including AI-related solutions, and to foster research into bio-drugs and medical devices. They would also provide subsidies for research and development projects focusing on hydrogen and electric vehicle technologies, especially relating to advancements in battery technology which could subsequently be applied to other industries.

One promising innovative solution in the plan is to leverage big data platforms to support domestic hospitals’ efforts to streamline they store and manage patient information.

In addition, the plan includes launching an AI research and development complex in Gwangju – a city in the southwest of the country – and developing next-generation robotic technology based on AI and the cloud.