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Global business innovation visit to South Korea - advanced materials

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Are you an SME working in the advanced materials space? Does your work have applications in transport and mobility?  Do you want to break into international markets or increase your international collaboration?

This could be the right opportunity for your company.

South Korean city with points of light coming from a tower on a hill going to various buildings in the city

This November Innovate UK and the Enterprise Europe Network are running their second visit to South Korea for businesses focused on advanced materials for mobility. The visit will give successful applicants the opportunity to visit research centres, meet South Korean companies and attend international exhibitions.

The aim is to develop strong international partnerships for future collaboration and commercialisation.

Why South Korea?

South Korea is a country which has experienced spectacular growth and is the 11th largest global economy.  Whilst South Korea is heavily dominated by the large chaebols (such as Hyundai, Lotte, Samsung etc), the government’s current R&D innovation strategy focuses on greater investment into SME's and aims to stimulate international collaboration.  This is the optimum time to form partnerships with South Korean companies.

Two cartoon style hands holding pieces of a jigsaw puzzle

There is a strong composites industry in South Korea which has had significant funding into the automotive and aerospace industries and the development of new carbon fibre technologies.

Recent collaboration between the UK and South Korea within this sector saw the launch of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in Jeonju City, resulting in a market offering significant opportunities for UK companies who are developing advanced materials for mobility in the following key focus areas:

  • Composites
  • Light weighting
  • Carbon fibre
  • High performance materials

Cartoon style person standing on a block putting a piece of a puzzle in place to allow him/her to connect to a taller block. A world map style background

Previous innovation mission

In March 2018, the first advanced materials visit went out to South Korea to network, meet potential collaborators and investigate the potential for UK-South Korea collaboration. Consisting of two groups, made up of representatives from Innovate UK, KTN, EEN, the HVM Catapult and numerous companies from the advanced materials sector.

The first program had a similar format to the upcoming second trip, with pre- and in-country briefings detailing the differences in how business is performed in South Korea compared to the UK, as well as visits to South Korean companies and research institutions.

The visit was a success with companies networking and ongoing discussions occurring for multiple companies around future collaborative projects.

 jigsaw puzzle of two business mens hands being shaken

Potential for UK companies

One UK company, Versarien, signed a collaboration agreement with AXIA Materials. Versarien, which is listed on the Alternative Investment Market, is a pioneer in manufacturing two-dimensional materials, especially graphene, which has heat transfer properties which are particularly attractive to the Asian IT industry.

The chief technical engineer at Versarien who represented the company on the trip said:

Our focus is definitely on 2D materials, which have very good thermal conductivity properties.  The visit was really well organised and the companies we met were good and relevant. It has opened up the opportunity for future collaborations with potential industry partners.

The National Physics Laboratory and Altitude Tech also hosted NNFC, KAIST last month on the back of the first program.  The first visit showed the amount of potential available to UK companies in South Korea in the advanced materials space.  It also showed how important initial meetings and networking is to collaboration within South Korea due to the differences in how partnerships are made and grown.

So, if you’re an SME and think your innovation could benefit from collaboration with South Korean companies then you may want to consider this opportunity.

How to apply

The chance to join Innovate UK and the EEN on this trip is via a competitive process which is now live.

Successful companies will have flights, accommodation and meals for one representative funded through the global business innovation programme.

The programme also includes pre-visit and in-country briefings providing market information and advice on how to do business in South Korea, along with training on how to improve your pitch and protect your IP.

Companies will get exclusive access to the Korean advanced materials sector and the opportunity to meet key companies and research organisations.

The company profile will appear in the visit brochure to be distributed to the South Korean advanced materials sector as well as targeted, pre-arranged meetings at an organised matchmaking event.

Key dates

How to apply and eligibility can be found here, key dates shown below:

  • Applications close  - 25th September
  • Applicants notified of the outcome by - 28th September
  • Pre-visit briefing event - 10th October
  • Fly to South Korea - 11th November


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