COLUMN


Hoping IGC Will Continue Global Expansion

from the Center of Incheon, an AI Playground

 

LEE Won-jae

Commissioner of Incheon Free Economic Zone Authority





The Incheon Global Campus (IGC) in Songdo is the first comprehensive campus of prestigious overseas universities in Korea, and it has successfully completed its first-phase attraction of five universities in the world's top 100 ranking. The IGC development project aims to attract ten universities on a site of about 294,000㎡ in Songdo to create a settlement environment for foreigners and cultivate global talent. This has the effect of reducing the cost of studying abroad for South Korean students, and creates synergistic effects through industry-academia-research cooperation between IGC universities and companies in Songdo. It is also attracting more attention as an excellent alternative to studying abroad in conjunction with the COVID-19 situation. Currently, five universities are in operation. In addition, the Stanford Research Center at the IGC (SCIGC) is scheduled to move in at the end of this year, and talks are underway for the University of Cambridge Milner Therapeutics Institute (MTI) to move in next year. The SCIGC is the first independent research institute established abroad by Stanford University, and the MTI is a research institute affiliated with the University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine, that has been established to conduct research into the development of new bio drugs. They can become a new centerpiece for Songdo International City, where about 30 bio-related organizations and companies have moved in, forming a bio cluster, and which is considered to have the world's highest-level expertise in smart cities, based on advanced technologies.


On the back of its successful first-phase development, IGC is already carrying out its second-phase project in earnest to be an education hub in Northeast Asia. To this end, IFEZA is conducting the “preliminary feasibility studies for the second-phase IGC development project”. Overseas universities are required to obtain an approval from the Ministry of Education to move into IGC, and to do so, they must first secure school sites and buildings. IGC has secured such infrastructures as a campus that can accommodate over 5,000 people, including an auditorium, a faculty apartment, libraries, a student hall, a gymnasium, and guesthouses. IGC plans to attract five additional outstanding universities and research institutes in the world's top 50 rankings, centering around departments that will contribute to the convergence of IT and BT fields and related industries. This plan is expected to gain further strength in line with promoting the “Incheon, AI Playground” by Incheon Metropolitan City and IFEZA.


The “Incheon, AI Playground” is an Incheon-style AI ecosystem creation project through which the city of Incheon and IFEZA intensively support the innovative growth of AI-Software convergence companies. The goal is to preemptively respond to the expansion of the AI industry, a core of the central government's Digital New Deal. Incheon and IFEZA aspire to make Incheon a major city in the high-tech AI industry next to Palo Alto, California, the economic center of Silicon Valley in the United States, by actively bringing AI-related companies in. The plan is to attract more than six such entities every year in an attempt for the integration of AI companies. The future is bright because Incheon is a competitive city that already has AI-related infrastructures. IGC is working to expand by conducting industry-academia joint research with companies in Incheon, beginning with the “Global Startup Campus” project with its tenant universities. Incheon Startup Park will be opened in Tomorrow City near IGC this year. With the goal of becoming a Korean Silicon Valley, Incheon Startup Park will evolve into an open venue for innovative growth and startup ventures by fostering 450 innovative companies and over 2,000 talents, and supporting 1,850 companies with commercialization. “Incheon Techno Park AIT (AI Technology),” primed to be completed in September 2022, is also targeting the creation of mid-sized unicorn enterprises. IGC will be the center of the changing industry-academia-research ecosystem in Incheon. IFEZA has been with the successful development of IGC, and will continue its efforts to help IGC attract the most prestigious universities in the world. I hope that the excellent workforce of IGC will continue to grow while contributing to the development of a new Incheon.

LEE Won-jae

Commissioner of Incheon Free Economic Zone Authority