The South Korean Government will spend KRW 1 trillion (US$840 million) in the next five years to research artificial intelligence.

The government will support a new research facility being set up by several private sector companies near Seoul. The centre will be a “pivot” for the country’s AI research, the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning said.

“Once the private companies set up the research institute, the government will provide financial support for core R&D projects,” said the ministry, Yonhap News reports.

South Korea President Park Geun-hye has also announced a new strategic council to revamp the country’s research and development, during a meeting to discuss AI last week.

The council aims to “drastically enhance productivity in R&D investment”, she said, according to the Korea Herald. The council of 20 civil servants and industry experts will develop a strategy to coordinate research growth across key areas.

The government and private sector must speed up innovation, including in AI, to build new industries and create jobs, President Park said.

South Korea needs to change regulations and provide support to private sector research centres to drive growth in advanced industries, she added.

The government already spends among the highest in the region on research as a percentage of GDP – 0.99%. Singapore is just ahead, spending 1% of its GDP with an innovation budget of US$13 billion for the next five years.

However, the country with the greatest overall investment as a percentage of GDP is South Korea.

Image by Republic of Korea, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0