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South Korea creates LED Valley

30 Jun 2005

Gwangju strives to become a world-leading region for LED fabrication.

The City of Gwangju in South Korea is embarking on a “LED Valley” project that aims to make it one of the most innovative LED production powerhouses in the world. Backed by a budget of $100 million between 2005 and 2008, the scheme intends to create a cluster of 40 to 50 leading LED-related companies, from chip makers to system providers. Already, nine such companies have moved into the business incubation center in the Korea Photonics Technology Institute (KOPTI).

The “LED Valley” project is part of the second phase of the Gwangju government’s ambitious Photonics 2010 plan that aspires to establish the city as one of the world’s top 5 photonics clusters by 2010.

“One of the main objectives for phase two is to attract well known global players into the Gwangju Photonics Cluster and support small & mid-sized companies to grow to be competitive in the global market,” said Kang Shin Ki, Director general, Investment Promotion Agency of Gwangju Metropolitan City.

“With our increasing promotion activities, prominent professionals and leaders of the industry have visited Gwangju to gauge the business environment and inspect the facilities. Three foreign companies, including OE Solution, have invested directly in Gwangju via the Foreign Direct Investment route, with several other companies currently negotiating their investments in the city.”

Phase one of the plan (2000-2003), which had an outlay of about $395 million, primarily focused on building up the R&D infrastructure in Gwangju. This included the opening of a 181,800 sq m Photonics Integration Complex that offered photonics companies very low rentals and the establishment of numerous R&D labs and organizations such as Korea Photonics Technology Institute ,Optical Communication Center of ETRI, Advanced Photonics Research Institute, KITECH Gwangju Office and the Korea Association for Photonics Industry Development.

To date, about 230 high-tech companies specializing in areas including semiconductors, optical communication, precision optics and optical materials have now set up home in Gwangju. And last year the region recorded total sales of $1.2 billion, according to statistics provided by the Investment Promotion Agency of Gwangju Metropolitan City.

Author
Manoj Aravindakshan is Director of On Target Media, a Singapore-based technology news provider.

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