▲ This bird’s-eye view of Jeju High-Tech Science and Technology Complex shows the vast scope of the project, near Jeju National University.
From the top of the Jeju Science Park a stunning view unfolds, looking down on the landscape of the park itself and then on in the distance, the oreums (volcanic hills) of Jeju and then the blue ocean facing Asia; a most welcome sight to those coming to invest in the future of Jeju.
One of Jeju's ambitious projects now well underway is a High-Tech Science and Technology Complex situated beside Jeju National University. This project is significant in that it promises to diversify the economy from Jeju's mainstays of tourism and agriculture. It should also yield great benefits to its university neighbor. Can it deliver?
The Jeju Science Park was seen as essential to foster the growth of Jeju's development, and in the shorter term, act as a beacon to attract foreign investors. The project, handled in conjunction with the Jeju International Development Center (JDC) and the Provincial Government began in earnest in 2004 with site approval and groundbreaking. The JDC's vision is “To create opportunities and an international environment to enable world-class corporations to succeed globally.” The target market for tenants are the Information Technology (IT), Bio-Technology and Research and Development (R & D) companies, both Korea and international in origin.
Having spent a lot of time up at the university, I began to witness a steady procession of construction and building equipment and vehicles go by the university main gates over the last couple of years, but was unaware of what was really taking place. It only took a minute's drive past the university one day to find out that this complex is massive! The site itself is set on approximately 1 million square meters of land (1,095,900m2), with land allocated primarily for the IT sector companies (348,666m2), R & D (56,642m2), and BT facilities (23,074m2). In anticipation of foreign owned operations and staff, the research park is striving to offer ancillary services and has allocated land for such amenities as schools, individual and multiple residences, park land (green space) and space for other businesses.
The infrastructure has required upgrades and installation of power (84,000KW), waste disposal facilities, telecommunication lines (10,161 lines), water supplies (1,300 tons industrial, 1,500 tons residential/day) and sewage and waste water treatment capacity to be completed by 2011.
▲ Korea Basic Science Institute and Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have agreed to move into the high-tech facility on July 23, 2009. Photo courtesy Jeju Free International City Development Center (JDC)
It remains to be seen whether the current economic climate will hamper any of the tenants moving in, but the groundwork is forging ahead. Several significant tenants are committed to moving in including Daum Communication’s (Korea's second largest Internet portal site) headquarters and its technology university, The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology; Korea Basic Science Institute, and ESTsoft.
The management of the Jeju Science Park has also taken a collaborative approach and sought partnerships with other global research parks and has established relationships with Ulm Science Park in Germany, Technium in Wales, Ascendus (Singapore) Science Park, three science parks in Taiwan (Hwsinchu, Central and Southern), and the Hong Kong Science Park. Jeju National University will also benefit from research and development related collaboration, and National research institutes are expected to participate such as the Governmental Incorporated Data Center, Hydrogen Energy Research Center and Wireless Valley.
The Jeju Government's current financial investment incentives provide attractive reasons to locate in Jeju. Some of these include staff salary subsidies (for Jeju residents), training subsidies up to $1,000 USD per month per worker, and relocation assistance. There are also national and local tax incentives and subsidies for companies establishing themselves in Jeju. These include up to 100 percent rent and property tax exemptions depending on the size of the investment. A business incubator may provide assistance to businesses' crucial start-up phase.
The total cost of the development is expected to be 427.4 billion Korean Won or approximately $343 million USD. No small investment, to try and attract tenants. The facility grounds will finish its development phase and be at full capacity by 2011. The park is on the outskirts of Jeju City and conveniently close to Jeju International Airport.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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