Joint Platform for Russian-Korean Cooperation

On January 28, HSE and the Korea-Russia Science and Technology Cooperation Centre (KORUSTEC) jointly hosted a Korean-Russian Open Lecture on Science and Technology Policy at HSE University in Moscow. Founded in 1990 following a Korean-Russian Cooperation Agreement, KORUSTEC was re-opened in 2007 as the Moscow office of the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF), bringing together six similar centres in various Russian cities (NRF is similar to the USA’s National Science Foundation).

The lecture was opened by Professor Alexander Sokolov, Deputy Director of the HSE Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge (ISSEK), and Dr. Gill Won Suh, Director of Korea-Russia Science and Technology Cooperation Centre. Among other topics, the programme included a presentation on ‘Innovation-Driven Growth in Korea: Policies and Tasks’ by Professor Kim Seong-Soo, Department of Public Administration, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Republic of Korea; and ‘National S&T Strategy and the “Doing Science” Approach to S&T Policy Evaluation in Russia’ by Dr. Mikhail Gershman, Deputy Head of the STI Policy Centre at the HSE ISSEK.

According to Dr. Gershman, the purpose of KORUSTEC is to develop research and technology cooperation between Korea and Russia (and other CIS countries), including by promoting joint research and academic exchange, fostering knowledge transfer, and implementing best cooperation practices. The Centre focuses on analysing the needs of Korean and Russian scholars, detecting promising areas of research cooperation, providing information on potential funding sources, facilitating meetings between scholars, and initiating joint research programmes.

‘These functions are implemented as research workshops, forums, conferences, business missions and meetings with Korean and Russian scholars. In the future, KORUSTEC intends to become part of a joint platform for Korean-Russian cooperation in innovation,’ Dr. Gershman said.

Korean economic growth has slowed in recent years, and in the context of an unstable political situation, the country is looking for new sources of growth and market outlets. Russia is one such promising market. The goal of developing cooperation between the countries was declared at the highest level in June 2018, when the presidents of Russia and South Korea signed a joint statement following talks in Moscow. Their statement called for cooperation on a wide range of issues, including science and innovation.

Among other things, the Korean side is interested in Russian research outcomes and technologies that can be commercialized. At the same time, Russian companies are looking for opportunities to enter the Korean market with their innovative products. ‘The most essential task is to develop a ‘win-win’ strategy for both countries,’ Dr. Gershman emphasized.

The parties charged with implementing the agreement – the Russian Ministry of Economic Development, the Russian Ministry of Science and Higher Education, and the South Korean Ministry of Science and ICT) – are developing a detailed roadmap for science, technology and innovation cooperation. The Korean-Russian Innovation Centre was founded this year as part of KITECH (Korea Institute of Industrial Technology) and will work on implementing joint research projects.

Following the recent joint open lecture, upcoming plans include organizing meetings with several leading Korean institutes to sign or prolong cooperation agreements with HSE and to develop plans for joint events. Possible areas of cooperation include research on STI policies, foresight, and intellectual big data analysis.

Successful operation of centres such as KORUSTEC provide an interesting way to foster Russian S&T cooperation with other countries. The key success factor will be a solid HR strategy, which requires people who can be trusted by key stakeholders in both countries.

In terms of innovation development experience, South Korea’s advantages include its success in commercializing academic outcomes and quick scaling of innovations. These are areas where Russian organizations have an opportunity to learn.