SEOUL, March 26 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's industry ministry on Tuesday kicked off what it calls the alchemist project, which centers on supporting complicated research and development projects, even those that have little chance of success, to eventually secure core technologies.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said the project takes cues from alchemists from ancient Greece who failed to create gold or other valuable metals but established the foundations of modern chemistry through tireless experimentation.
Under the project, the ministry plans to support research projects that can lay the foundation for the future generations instead of focusing on the here and now. The government will eye to develop technologies that can alter the paradigm of various industries.
The ministry plans to establish a special committee of 60 experts devoted to finding such projects mainly in five segments: automobiles, robotics, state-of-the-art equipment, renewable energy and energy efficiency.
The committee will select projects through a tournament-style competition, with the winner getting a subsidy of up to 25 billion won (US$22 million) over a five-year period.
This year, the ministry allocated 10 billion won for test projects. The ministry is currently preparing to secure a fund worth 600 billion won for the long term under cooperation with the science ministry.
"The alchemist project involves a strategy centering on developing new technologies that challenge barriers for fundamental innovation of future industries," Industry Minister Sung Yun-mo said.
"(The project) will become an opportunity to promote challenging and innovative research and development projects in the country over the long haul."
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