Hoping IGC will grow into a cradle for 

digital transformation-leading talents


KIM Yongnae

Deputy Minister for Industry and Enterprise Innovation Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy

With the expansion of digitalization, we have witnessed the advent of new products and services while innovative changes are taking place in the overall value chain, encompassing R&D, procurement, production, distribution and consumption. Companies enhance their productivity and added value through digitalization and create new business opportunities. Untact and online initiatives that we have experienced with the COVID-19 pandemic are expected to further accelerate digital transformation. This implies that digital transformation has to be an important prerequisite in new economic growth strategies going forward.

As part of its initiative to foster South Korea becoming a logistics and business-centered country in North East Asia, the South Korean government designated Incheon Metropolitan City, Busan and Gwangyang as Special Economic Zones in 2002. Since then, it has continuously expanded the designation of special zones into nine as of July 2020. The Incheon Free Economic Zone (IFEZ), the first to be designated, is comprised of three regions; Songdo, Yeongjong and Cheongna over a total area of 122.44 km2. Located here are 3,039 domestic and foreign companies including Boeing, GE and Samsung Biologics, as well as 15 international organizations such as Green Climate Fund (GCF).

In order to foster the development of global experts within the IFEZ, the South Korean government invested KRW 500 billion with Incheon Metropolitan City and the private sector to complete the Incheon Global Campus (IGC) in 2012, followed by successfully attracting renowned universities from overseas. As the nation's first and the best joint campus comprised of prestigious foreign universities, IGC started with the opening of the State University of New York (SUNY) Korea Stony Brook University in March 2012. It currently operates five universities, including George Mason University Korea, Ghent University Global Campus, The University of Utah Asia Campus, and The SUNY Korea Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) with approximately 3,200 students in the campus.

The IGC is exhibiting its true value in global Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) education with its graduates finding employment in digital platform companies such as Apple and Facebook, and going on to such graduate schools as Imperial College London and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich addition, the Stanford Center, which conducts research into intelligent infrastructure and eco-friendly energy-based smart cities will be opened in October 2020, and this is expected to create a synergy effect in connection with the universities within the campus. Currently, IGC is driving forward various types of industry-academia-research cooperation such as running diverse internship programs with companies in the IFEZ.

The central government revised the “Industrial Education Enhancement and Industry-Academia-Research Cooperation Promotion Act” in March this year, allowing foreign universities in South Korea to become principals in industry-academia cooperation efforts. In addition, support for preparation, initial operation (within seven years), and joint education facility operation expenses are provided to foreign universities entering the FEZs in proportion to the amount raised by the local government.

Previously, global talent referred to people who could communicate in a foreign language, based on open thinking, and have a specialized field. What's required in the upcoming digital transformation era is the ability to resolve problems innovatively by utilizing digital technology and data. In the IGC, students from around the world are forming human networks at home and abroad by carrying out association clubs and other joint programs. Here, IGC is building a global STEAM education system that allows students to take classes within a year on the home campuses located in foreign countries, and receive the identical degree to the one on the home campus. In addition, in response to the trend of digital transformation and industrial demand, each university in IGC is either operating or preparing to open relevant departments such as Computer Science, Computer Game Design, Electrical Computer Engineering, Data Analysis, and System Engineering.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, which has been with the IGC since its inception, will support the IGC so that it could become an incubator for creative STEAM talents who will lead digital transformation, and will continue to provide necessary assistance going forward.


Yongnae KIM Deputy Minister for Industry and Enterprise Innovation Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy