Science et technologie

Korea leading in technologies that have potential for future growth, says OECD


19/10/2015 (Daejeon, Korea) - Thanks to robust skills and investment in R&D, Korea is leading in the development of frontier technologies with potential to transform production processes, stimulate the entry of new firms, and the launch of ground-breaking products and applications, according to a new OECD report.


The Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard 2015 finds that over the past 20 years, Korean R&D spending as a share of GDP has doubled to reach one of the highest levels in the OECD area, at 4.15% in 2013, compared to an OECD average of 2.4% (see graph). 


This investment has placed Korea at the frontier in the development of cutting-edge technologies:

  • For ICT-related technologies related to the Internet of Things, big data and quantum computing and telecommunications, Korea accounts for 14.1% of the patent families filed at the world’s largest patent offices between 2010 and 2012 (up from 4.8% in 2005-07);

  • For advanced materials and nanotechnologies like graphene, metamaterials, renewable energy enabling materials and wearable technologies, Korea’s share stands at 21%, up from 13%;

  • For health-related technologies like experimental gene therapies, Korean firms and researchers file 6% of patent families, up from 3.5%.


Korea’s lead is built upon strong education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines, with the highest percentage of tertiary graduates in natural science and engineering in the OECD area (32% in 2012). The share of R&D personnel in total employment in the country has doubled over the past 10 years.


"With its R&D-intensive manufacturing sector, skilled human resource base and firms operating at the global technology frontier, Korea is ready for the next production revolution," said Andrew Wyckoff, Director for Science, Technology and Innovation at the OECD.

Fig. 1. Total expenditure on R&D, OECD and selected economies, 1995-2013
As a percentage of GDP
Source: OECD (2015), OECD Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard 2015: Innovation for Growth, OECD 

With Korean firms increasingly operating at the technological frontier, investment in fundamental research will be a key challenge, as will strengthening collaboration across firms and with the research sector, as well connecting to knowledge abroad, including through greater international mobility of researchers.

>> Read the country note for Korea (OECD Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard 2015)

The STI Scoreboard 2015 tracks trends in science, technology and industry to understand how innovation is evolving and how countries are positioning themselves in the global knowledge economy. It includes over 200 internationally comparable indicators and provides a broad range of statistics for other major economies such as Brazil, China, India, and the Russian Federation.


For further information, please contact Naoko Kawaguchi (00.81.3) 5532.0026 in the OECD Media Office in Tokyo .


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