South Korean Research Centre Seeks Place At The Top

by Soo Bin Park , | 2012-06-29

South Korea has today launched an ambitious institute that it hopes will eventually rank alongside Germany’s Max Planck Society and Japan’s RIKEN as one of the world's leading basic-research institutions. The government intends the Institute for Basic Science (IBS), headquartered in Daejeon, to make South Korea a guiding force in developing new technologies.

"We have so far copied and pursued advanced technologies," said South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in a speech at the inauguration of the institute. "However, in order to make a leap into the ranks of advanced, first-class nations, we must develop a history of creation based on basic science and fundamental technologies."

Lee promised to provide unstinting support to make the IBS a "dream institute", attractive to the best scientists from around the world.

The government last year enacted a law to develop a project called the International Science and Business Belt (ISBB), of which the IBS is one of the main initiatives. The ISBB project will have 5.17 trillion won (US$4.4 billion) until 2017 to run the IBS and build the nation’s first rare-isotope accelerator, among other projects.

Thinking big
The IBS plans to attract 3,000 researchers and staff members to 50 research centres in Daejeon and around the country. Each centre will have an average annual budget of 10 billion won, and will be directed by a world-class scientist, employed on a 10-year contract. The directors will be given a great deal of autonomy to decide on a research focus, recruit staff and run their centres.


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