▲ Officials taking part in a building dedication ceremony at Jeju Science Park. Photo courtesy Jeju provincial government
Jeju Island is one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in South Korea. However, it also hopes to be a welcoming city to those wanting to invest in the future of Jeju, whether they are from Korea or other countries. Incubating and nurturing innovators and entrepreneurs seemed a feasible goal when Jeju Science Park finally un-veiled its landscape and vision to win their hearts.
On March 25, a building dedication ceremony was held at the Elite Building in the future science park. It was a big event for Jeju Island and attended by approximately 300 participants, including Prime Minister Chun Un Chan, Jeju Governor Kim Tae Hwan, Malaysia’s ambassador to South Korea, Ramlam bin Ibrahim, and many others from cutting-edge technology industries.
Jeju Science Park, one of eight ambitious projects spear-headed by the Jeju Free Inter-national Development Center (JDC) is intended to diversify the economy from Jeju’s main-stay of tourism to information technology, biotechnology and knowledge based industries. The project began in earnest in 2005 with site approval and a groundbreaking ceremony. From its inception, the new science park has been intended as an important part in providing assistance to technology-based firms at their critical start-up phase.
Prime Minister Chun said in his congratulatory message, “It is true that Jeju’s industrial infrastructure still lags a long way behind its potential. Jeju Science Park will be, however, a stepping stone to foster the growth of Jeju’s development, which will be the innovative IT & BT sectors.” He continued, “In the present digital era, global IT and bio-tech industries search for ways to work freely in a nature-friendly environment. For them, Jeju Science Park is a best choice.”
Byon Jong Il, chief director of JDC, said, “This park will be a cornerstone of Jeju’s future, helping it to become an inter-national city.” He said it would, in the short term, “act as a beacon to attract foreign investors.” In the longer term, it is expected to “bring together innovative knowledge and local and inter-national technology-based business communities.”
“Within the park, we seek to build a cluster of domestic and international enterprises, re-search institutes and organizations as well as to forge a network with other global science parks abroad. The park will be a clear testament to JDC’s commitment to make Jeju a world-class stronghold of innovation and technology.”
Currently, 35 enterprises and organizations have agreed to move into the science park. They include Daum Communication, Estsoft and the Korea Basic Science Institute. Also close to signing commitments to relocate to the park are the Smart Grid Complex and the Telematics Complex, national energy-saving projects that are currently elsewhere on Jeju.
“For innovators, the best thing is to provide an ideal environment,” said Boo Won Kyun, general director of JDC. “There is nowhere else better than Jeju in terms of clean environment and rich raw materials.
“The bio-tech industries can utilize them and turn them into functional high-end products.”
The massive complex is set on just over 1 million square meters of land, with sites allocated primarily for information technology companies, research and development companies and biotechnology facilities.
From the top of the Jeju Science Park, a stunning panoramic view unfolds, looking over the park itself, with Jeju National University nearby, and then in the distance many oreum, or secondary volcanic cones, against the magnificent back-drop of Mount Halla.
Jeju’s ambitious plan to be-come a world-class science park will not be easy though as it will have to compete with already well-established parks such as Ascendus Science Park in Singapore, three science parks in Taiwan (Hwsinchu, Central and Southern) and the Hong Kong Science Park. It remains to be seen whether Jeju Science Park will be able to distinguish itself from the rising number of such parks in Asia, including elsewhere in Korea.
The total cost of the development is expected to be 452.6 billion Korean won ($402.8 million); which will come from both the government (191.4 billion won) and the private sector (261.2 billion won). The facility is expected to reach full capacity by 2011.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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