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Education leaders meet to discuss future

KAIST to host forum of global research universities on knowledge transfer for creative economy

Kang Sung-mo, president of KAIST (left) and Michael Drake, chancellor of University of California, Irvine
Kang Sung-mo, president of KAIST (left) and Michael Drake, chancellor of University of California, Irvine

Educational leaders from the world’s top research universities will gather in Seoul on Tuesday to discuss how to harness creative ideas and innovative research to improve lives and advance industries.

Hosted by Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, the nation’s top research-oriented university, the International Presidential Forum on Global Research Universities will be held at the Westin Chosun Hotel in central Seoul.

Since its inception in 2008, the annual forum has grown into one of Asia’s largest gatherings of university presidents.

This year, over 120 presidents and vice presidents from 57 research institutions in 28 countries as well as key policymakers and business leaders from are participating in the event under the theme “Knowledge Creation, Technology Transfer and Entrepreneurship,” according to the organizer.

Kang Sung-mo, president of KAIST, said the purpose of this year’s meeting is to define the role of research universities and develop role models for cooperation with industry and venture start-ups.

“In the face of an ever-changing economic climate driven by shifts in technological advancement, demographic trends and global integration, the role of research universities is becoming ever more significant in achieving sustainable economic growth,” he said in a statement.

He added that this year’s forum will not only discuss how universities and industries can keep up with global changes, but also “ways in which they can work together to facilitate effective technology transfer and entrepreneurship.”

During the one-day forum, the participants will examine how research universities can contribute to the development of national economies in three separate sessions ― enabling knowledge creation; entrepreneurship and university-based technology transfer; higher education and strategic knowledge creation.

(from left) Paul Feigin, senior executive vice president at Technion, Israel, Yoshinao Mishima, president of Tokyo Institute of Technology and Jörg Steinbach, president of Technical University of Berlin
(from left) Paul Feigin, senior executive vice president at Technion, Israel, Yoshinao Mishima, president of Tokyo Institute of Technology and Jörg Steinbach, president of Technical University of Berlin
Keynote speakers include Michael Drake, chancellor of the University of California, Irvine; Jrg Steinbach, president of Technical University of Berlin; Paul Feigin, senior executive vice president of Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and Yoshinao Mishima, president of Tokyo Institute of Technology.

Drake from UC Irvine claims if universities are the engine of innovation, people are the fuel. He will examine how to enable faculties and students to work toward knowledge creation.

Mishima will introduce industry collaboration activities at Japan’s top engineering school and how the school promotes collaborative research and campus ventures.

Steinbach will show the development of entrepreneurship in Germany and, in particular, how TU Berlin commercializes college inventions and encourages start-ups. And Feigin of the Israel’s Technion will discuss in detail the benefits and risks of university-based technology transfer.

Kang will introduce the role of the school in Daejeon as a knowledge creator for creative economy in Korea.

The participants are expected to sign a joint declaration at the end of the forum on the commitment and policy recommendations in pursuit of creative and innovative learning infrastructure.

Founded in 1971, KAIST made significant contributions to the nation’s development by producing scientists and engineers, and conducting pioneering research for industries.

KAIST is ranked 56th among the top 100 world universities by Times Higher Education World University Rankings this year.

Kang pledges KAIST will go beyond these initial accomplishments and be a “powerful engine” for the economic advancement of the country.

Kang was inaugurated the 15th president of KAIST in February.

He was appointed last month to a panel on the newly reorganized Presidential Advisory Council on Science and Technology.

Kang, in particular, heads the subcommittee specifically tasked with determining recommended variables for developing a creative economy, a key policy vision of the Park Geun-hye administration.

As part of efforts to help bolster creative industries, the school focuses on promoting innovative start-ups and emulating young entrepreneurs.

KAIST plans to allow students to take a break for up to eight semesters and faculty members for up to six years to revitalize business start-ups. And in order to foster innovative start-ups, KAIST is planning to open a special “idea lab,” where students and faculty members can engage more directly and conduct various experiments freely 24 hours a day.

KAIST is also trying to help small to medium-sized companies.

“Many small to medium-sized corporations are desperate to develop high-value products using advanced technologies. However, they cannot afford strong R&D teams and thus must rely on technology transfers from research universities,” Kang said.

To create a more integrative learning environment, the school began last year to eliminate traditional teacher-led lectures in classrooms and instead started to provide online lectures using a new platform called Education 3.0.

By eliminating lectures in classrooms, teachers and students are able to have discussions and various forms of interaction, according to Kang.

The president is also focused on constructing a network with nearby venture companies in Daeduck Valley in Daejeon. KAIST is currently working with the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning and the Daejeon city government to build a science and technology cluster called the Kreation-X Valley, or K-Valley, to promote more intimate collaborations, start-ups and job creation.

“I believe KAIST will play a central role in the next Silicon Valley in Korea,” Kang said.

By Oh Kyu-wook (