Israel, Korea share thoughts on startups and higher education

Representatives from Israel and Korea discussed how to bolster cooperation on startups and higher education during Israeli President Reuven Rivlin visit to Seoul from July 14 to 18.

The discussions took place twice — at the Korea-Israel Economic Forum on July 16 and at the Korea-Israel University President International Forum on July 17 — as the two countries deal with the rapidly changing business climate in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Joined by President Rivlin and Israeli Ambassador to Korea Chaim Choshen, the representatives said innovation and creativity were more critical than ever. They said the industrial revolution has been more challenging for Israel and Korea, which have scarce natural resources and therefore have relied on human resources.

Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee said Korea has a lot to learn from Israel, pointing out that Israel, despite its 8.8 million population, had most startups per capita in the world — around one startup for every 1,400 people.

Israel Export Institute (IEI) Chairman Adiv Baruch stressed that Israel had the highest research and development (R&D) intensity in the world, with R&D spending accounting for 4.7 percent of the gross domestic expenditure. The rate is higher than 2.7 percent in the United States and 2.01 percent in Europe.

During the July 17 forum, President Rivlin said higher education was “a key to mutual understanding to universal solidarity to prosperity and peace” and that he wanted more students to study in each other’s country.

Chungnam National University President Oh Deog-seong said education was “the most important tool to prepare for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” He underscored the changing role of universities that could nurture entrepreneurship and that a triple helix model of innovation — interaction among academia, industry and government — was essential.