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GE advises Korea to speed up innovation

U.S. tech giant General Electric on Wednesday called for Korea to speed up its innovation to keep up with rapidly changing global trends that could make the country “easily left out.”

The company suggested that Korean society and businesses adopt “industrial Internet,” “advanced manufacturing” and a “global brain” to achieve stronger homegrown innovation, wider collaboration and education to become leaders in high-value industries.

“In terms of putting a stronger emphasis on the speed of innovation, South Korea is given 42 -- below average,” said Marco Annunziata, chief economist and executive director of Global Market Insight at General Electric. 

Vice Industry Minister Lee Kwan-sup speaks at the GE Innovation Forum 2015 in Seoul on Wednesday (MOTIE)
Vice Industry Minister Lee Kwan-sup speaks at the GE Innovation Forum 2015 in Seoul on Wednesday (MOTIE)

Annunziata visited Korea to speak at the “GE Innovation Forum” held at the Coex InterContinental Hotel in Seoul, Wednesday. The forum, held for the first time in Korea, was designed to highlight a report, “The Future of Work in Korea,” which highlights the industrial status of Korea and its future perspectives.

Annunziata noted that Korea faced challenges with strong competition from China and other countries, sluggish productivity in service sectors and a rapidly aging population.

In overcoming such hurdles he suggested that Korea embraced the industrial Internet, a software technology approach that integrates big data analytics with industrial machinery and thus results in enhanced efficiency and productivity. Annunziata also called for the country to combine new materials and advanced technologies like 3-D printing and industrial robots with business processes, including design, manufacturing, supply chain management, distribution and services, into one intelligent system.

The economist also pointed out that the country should spare more space for small and mid-sized enterprises and start-ups that have weaker bargaining power against large corporations and are squashed in international competition.

“I think the (plan of the) Korean government (to push the creative economy by supporting start-ups as well as SMEs) has achieved something to a certain level but more needs to be done in creating an ecosystem for them,” Annunziata said.

“The government should re-examine tax credits and subsidies as well as human policies and push cooperation with larger companies,” he added.

By Bae Ji-sook (