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President Shin Speaks on Closing the Skills Gap at the WEF
(President Shin poses (far right) with the National University of Singapore President Tan Eng Chye (center) along with Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee in Davos last week.) President Sung-Chul Shin shared his ideas on how reskilling is a critical element of growth, dynamism, and competitiveness for countries during a session titled “Closing the Skills Gap: Creating a Reskilling Revolution” at the World Economic Forum on January 24 in Davos. While discussing a reskilling imperative alongside French Labor Minister Muriel Penicaud, he presented how the Korean government and KAIST are responding to the socio-economic transformation of workforces in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. After their presentation, Minister of Economy and Enterprise of Spain Nadia Calvirno Santamaria, Minister of Commerce and Industry of Oman Ali bin Masoud bin Ali Al Sunaidy, and Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Skill Development, and Entrepreneurship of India Dharmendra Pradhan shared their views on the course of decision making regarding the proactive practices and policies they have applied for closing the gaps from their countries’ perspectives. President Shin presented how to upskill and reskill SMEs and startups, the real players who will jumpstart the economy in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. He explained that the government is striving to change the existing structure of the economy, which is dominated by a few giant conglomerates. He added that the Korean government is trying to support SMEs and startups in terms of both funding and technology reskilling in order to rejuvenate the economy. To better align itself with the government’s efforts, KAIST has introduced SME 4.0. SME 4.0 proposes to innovate the production process through the creation of a partnered platform between KAIST and SMEs across the country. With this platform, KAIST assists local SMEs for standardizing and systemizing all their processes of production, delivery, and management with enterprise resources planning (ERP) and manufacturing execution systems (MES). In addition, SME 4.0 offers retraining and re-tooling programs by linking the data generated through this platform in real time to better facilitate SMEs’ smart business. (President Shin shakes hands with H.E.Mohammed Al-Tuwairi, Minister of Economy and Planning of Saudi Arabia before holding a bilaterla meeting in Davos.) President Shin also explained about upskilling the leading corporations’ technological competitiveness, partnering with major leading corporations for upskilling their advanced technologies. He also held a series of bilateral meetings with dignitaries attending the WEF annual meeting to discuss partnerships and collaborations. He also attended the Global University Leaders Forum (GULF), a community composed of 28 presidents from the world’s top universities on January 23. President Shin, who is on the advisory board of the Center for Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR), also participated in the board meeting and discussed the upcoming launching of the Korea C4IR, which will open at KAIST in March.
KAIST Alumni Take a Strong Hold on Tech-Based Startups
Average sales for KAIST alumni startups in 2015 doubled from the previous year to 20.7 billion KRW. They reportedly recorded approximately 37-times higher sales than non-KAIST alumni startups, demonstrating that KAIST is emerging as strong tech-based venture startup incubator. According to a white paper on the Profile and Performance of KAIST Startups released recently, the number of KAIST startups stood 1,112, of which 877 were founded by alumni (78.9%), 36 by faculty and staff (3.2%), and 199 by those funded by the KAIST Technology Business Incubation Center (17.9%) at the end of 2015. The total sales of KAIST startups stood at 13.6 trillion KRW in 2015, a 25% increase compared to the previous year. KAIST alumni startups created about 32,400 jobs in that year. Most KAIST founders majored in engineering (649 people, 71.1%), followed by business (121 people, 13.3%), natural sciences (86, 9.4%), life science and bio engineering (32 people, 3.5%), and liberal arts and convergence science (24 people, 2.6%), making a total of 913 founders, excluding the 199 startups funded by KAIST Technology Business Incubation Center. By department, most founders come from electrical engineering (148 people, 16.2%), followed by mechanical engineering (135 people, 14.8%), and computer science (114 people, 12.5%). KAIST startups produced 63 listed companies (1 KOSPI, 51 KOSDAQ, and 11 KONEX), which accounted for 5.7% of the total 1112 startups. This is significantly higher than the average for venture companies (1.1%). It should be noted that the rate is only around 10% for Korean conglomerate-affiliated companies. At the point of startup establishment, KAIST alumni startup founders were mostly in their 40s (430 people, 40%), followed by their 30s (415 people, 38.6%), 20s (110 people, 10.2%) and 50s (110 people, 10.2%). Around half of the founders were in their 20s and 30s. In particular, the number of founders in their 20s and 30s was around 3.5 times higher in KAIST startups compared to general startups and 1.2 times higher than venture startups. The average lifespan of KAIST startups is 10.3 years; 276 companies (25%) were established over 16 years ago, 282 companies (25.4%) between 6 and 10 years, 246 companies (22.1%) between 11 and 15 years, and 308 companies (27.7%) less than five years ago. By type of business, startups based on technology accounted for 88.1%; 510 manufacturing companies accounted for 46.2%, followed by 321 information service companies with 29.1%, and 147 science and technology service companies with 13.3%. By region, 617 companies (55.5%) were located in Seoul and the nearby metropolitan area, followed by 350 companies (31.5%) located in Daejeon.
KAIST Startups Annually Engage 33,000 People, and Their Sales Total Nearly 10 Billion Dollars
According to a recent study, KAIST startups annually engage 33,000 people, and their sales total nearly 10 billion US dollars. Also amongst 1,245 companies, 50 were listed in stock markets including KOSDAQ and KONEX. President Kang of KAIST commissioned an evaluation of KAIST startups last year. The report consisted of six chapters: current status of entrepreneurs and companies, cross analysis based on individuals’ background and academic degree, annual performance analysis, and current status of startup assistance. The report categorized the startups with respect to the founders’ background. Of 1,245 companies, KAIST alumni founded 929 (74.6%) of the companies under study: 191 (15.3%) were located within the KAIST campuses, 91 (7.3%) were founded by enrolled students, and 74 (2.7%) by professors. The startup founders had different levels of education: 515 (41.4%) founders had master’s degree, 443 (35.6%) Ph.D. degree, and only 213 (17.1%) had only bachelor’s degree as the highest level of education attained. The reason behind the majority of founders having a master’s degree or higher degree is that many people established a startup after obtaining specialized knowledge and skills. Focusing on the founders’ college majors, 719 (70.6%) founders were from the engineering department, 111 (10.9%) from the business administration department, 103 (10.1%) from the natural science department, and 86 (8.4%) from other departments. Looking at the companies' locations, 462 (37.5%) were placed in Seoul, 355 (28.8%) in Daejeon, and 273 (22.2%) in Gyeonggi. By the end of 2013, the total asset of 1,069 companies came to 12 billion and 444 million dollars. Their total sales figure was 10 billion and 13 million dollars, and annual employments summed up to 33,000 people. The companies generated a significant portion of gross regional domestic product (GRDP) in each region. They formed 0.49% of GRDP of Seoul, took up 1.67% GRDP of Gyeonggi, and 5.53% of that of Daejeon. Along with the performance analysis, the report also took a survey of suggestions on future startup assistance and opinions on current startup assistance policies. To a question asking what constituted the most difficult part of startup, 31.7% of respondents answered “attraction of investment,” 22.8% chose “a lack of human resources,” and 16.8% said “consulting” amongst 214 respondents. The study showed that major and medium enterprises face difficulty in finding human resources whereas small businesses experience obstacles attracting investment. Some startups had help from KAIST: 44 startups were provided with the office space, 21 had educational supports, and 18 were supported in research and development. The report demonstrates that startups established by KAIST alumni and members play a key role in the South Korean economy despite KAIST’s short startup history, which began only since the end of 1990s. Based on this report, KAIST plans to listen continuously to the needs of alumni founders, and use those responses as a guide to entrepreneurship education for current students. The Dean of the Office of University and Industry Cooperation, Joongmyeon Bae, who oversaw the publication of this report, said, "As this report is the first in Korea to study the status of alumni startups, it will be incredibly valuable in modifying the startup assistance policies.” To spread an entrepreneurial spirit and start-up cultures in the campus and enhance the startup supporting system, KAIST has founded various startup centers on and off the campus.
Prime Minister's Prize for KAIST TBIC at 2013 Korean Venture & Business Expo
The KAIST Technology Business Incubation Center (TBIC) received the Prime Minister’s Prize at the 2013 Korean Venture & Business Expo. TBIC started its service in 1994 and was selected as the best center by the Asia Association of Business Incubation (AABI) in 2007. The center has contributed to business incubation for competitive enterprises through consulting, venture capital, educational curriculums, and infrastructure service. It has also encouraged and activated business startups by KAIST students through educational programs and supporting services such as hidden champion buildup, mentoring & networking, startup auditions, and special lecture sessions for entrepreneurship. TBIC has supported 488 businesses since 1994, and 278 companies (57%) are still in business. Eleven companies have been listed on the Korea Stock Exchange through the support of TBIC and eight of them are still on the list as of today. Those companies have been contributing to the national economy with total sales of 1.9 trillion won and in job creation by hiring 5,908 employees.
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