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Convergence tech offers new growth boost: report

Green biotechnology, intelligent robotics and value added telecom services   take the lead in the sector


New technologies and services are rapidly converging, fueling the growth of South Korea’s high-tech industries such as green biotechnology, intelligent robotics and value added telecommunications services, the Hyundai Research Institute said.

In a report titled “Emergence of New Technology Convergence,” Hyundai said a host of convergences are taking place here, prompting policymakers and businesses alike to increase their investment in new technologies and help support nascent convergence-led industries.

“The convergence trend is spreading fast in agricultural, mechanical-manufacturing and telecommunications services in a way that revitalizes the broader industries,” the report said.

Agricultural and other basic industries are increasingly embracing biotechnology in to boost the value of products in health and environment fields. Mechanical and manufacturing industries are focused on the adoption of IT to produce robots for a variety of purposes. And the telecommunications industry is adopting more advanced IT solutions, accelerating the launch of what are called “smart” devices and services such as cloud storage and electronic payments.

As a result, eco-friendly biotechnology, intelligent robotics and value added telecommunications services are emerging as new growth-oriented industries, Hyundai said.

The global green biotechnology market is estimated at 87.5 trillion won ($76.9 million) as of 2011. South Korea’s green biotechnology market is valued at 2.7 trillion won, accounting for 43 percent of the total domestic biotechnology market.

Hyundai said the broader biology technology sector worldwide was expanding at an annual pace of 11.1 percent, and competition is intensifying as global agricultural firms are scrambling to secure more patents for future-oriented technologies.

Sensing the importance of the biotechnology industry, the Korean government has invested heavily in the sector in the past decade. In particular, it is encouraging local firms to develop more advanced and function-rich seeds under the state-led initiative of “Golden Seed Project.” Under the plan, the government and local industry have set aside 491 billion won for investment through 2021 to develop 20 new seeds for export.

Intelligent robots are those with sophisticated functions such as perception of the outer environment and the limited yet expanded manipulation of movement. Hyundai said that as these types of robot were being developed for education, health, transportation and defense industries, the impact would be far-reaching for related sectors such as mechanical and manufacturing companies in the long term.

South Korea’s robotics industry is estimated at 1.3 trillion won as of 2010, but the sector is expected to post an annual growth rate of 14.5 percent through 2020 on the back of stronger demand for robots capable of carrying out personal and professional services.

The Korean robotics industry is at the initial stage, with a handful of firms maintaining a dominant position.

“Thanks to the strong support from the government, a variety of service robots are being experimented with, but the absence of killer applications is putting a limit on the growth of the market,” Hyundai said.

The growth of value added telecommunications services has long been predicted as the advance of IT solutions kick-started the convergence of various services and technologies. While fixed-line and mobile markets struggle with slowing growth, the value added telecommunications market is growing quickly. The Korean value added service market is estimated at 16.1 trillion won.

“Internet TV and convergence of fixed and mobile services are growing quickly, while value added services continue to expand rapidly,” Hyundai said.

The research institute said the government, businesses and research communities should work together to train more professionals specializing in convergence technologies. In addition, it said the regulators should help set up fair market conditions and introduce more financial support so that both large and small enterprises could compete on an equal footing as far as convergence technologies are concerned.

By Yang Sung-jin (insight@heraldcorp.com)
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