Korea Gets Middling Score for Innovation

      January 18, 2019 14:07

      Korea earned a middling score for innovation in rankings by the organizers of the world's biggest consumer electronics show, despite its reputation as an IT powerhouse.

      On the International Innovation Scorecard released recently by the U.S. Consumer Technology Association, the organizer of the Consumer Electronics Show, Korea ranked a poor 24th among 61 countries.

      The top 16 countries -- including Canada, Estonia, Germany, Israel, Singapore, Switzerland, the U.K. and the U.S. -- were crowned Innovation Champions for their effective policies in innovation support and deregulation.

      The scorecard grades countries from A to F across 28 indicators like entrepreneurial activity, research and development investment, and tax friendliness. It was published in time with this year's CES in Las Vegas on Jan. 8-11.

      Korea got a clean fail in the ride-sharing category amid massive protests from taxi drivers against Kakao's new ride-sharing app and a ban on Uber.

      Eight other countries including Hungary and Greece scored an F in the category as their governments struggle to keep up with new developments.

      In the short-term rentals category, which covers regulations restricting Airbnb and similar online accommodation-sharing businesses, Korea scored a D since people can register homes in urban areas as B&Bs or guest houses if they run them for less than half the year. Only Rwanda with a clean F ranked lower than Korea.

      The report urged Korea to rethink its approach to the sharing economy. The country scored a C in the category of "unicorns," or domestic companies founded within the past decade "that have achieved an actual or implied market valuation of at least US $1 billion."

      Korea has only three such companies -- Coupang, Yello Mobile and L&P Cosmetics -- in stark contrast to the U.S.' 133 and China's 120. The U.K. managed to nurture 12, India nine and Germany seven.

      But Korea scored a clean A, alongside Israel, by spending a world-beating 4.2 percent of GDP on research and development. Next came Switzerland with 3.4 percent, Sweden with 3.3 percent and Austria with 3.1 percent. In entrepreneurial activity, Korea scored a B on the strength of a government fund of W8.7 trillion for start-ups.

      Japan and China also ranked surprisingly low at 31st and 33rd because the scorecard is heavily biased against regulations of any kind. 

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