|Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, front row sixth from left, Israeli Ambassador to Korea Chaim Choshen, front row fourth from left, and Federation of Korean Industries Chairman (FKI) Huh Chang-soo, front row fifth from left, pose with other dignitaries during the Korea-Israel Economic Forum at FKI Conference Center in Yeouido, Seoul, July 16. / Korea Times photo by Yi Whan-woo|
|The presidents of Israeli and Korean universities pose after announcing a joint statement during the Korea-Israel University President International Forum at Grand Hyatt Seoul, July 17. / Korea Times photo by Yi Whan-woo|
By Yi Whan-woo
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.
"In that regard, I hope our forum serves as a new momentum in bilateral cooperation," Huh Chang-soo, chairman of GS Group and also the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI), said during the July 16 forum at the FKI Conference Center in Yeouido, Seoul.
He said the countries had "reciprocal" business structures, referring to Korea's manufacturing industry and Israel's aerospace and other high-tech industries.
Rivlin said Israeli small- and medium-sized companies were "breaking new ground" in many areas including cybersecurity, fintech, autonomous cars, health, water and food.
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.
Israel Innovation Authority Head Ami Appelbaum gave a lecture on the ecosystem of Israel's startups.
He attributed the culture of thinking "outside of the box" as a reason for Israel's success as a "startup nation" and its step toward a "smart-up nation."
In a separate lecture, IEI Chairman Baruch listed the global challenges of food scarcity, water shortages, global warming, an aging population, cyberattacks and terrorism, and explained how Israel was fostering relevant companies.
Israel's Head of Cyber Directorate Yigal Unna warned that cyber threats have become diverse over the years, going from ransomware to fake news using artificial intelligence.
Comparing cyber threats to measles, Unna said Israel and Korea, along with other partner countries, must be "properly immunized and work together to eradicate epidemics."
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.
In her speech read by Vice Minister of Education Park Baeg-beom, Education Minister and Deputy Prime Minister for Social Affairs Yoo Eun-hye said Israeli government support was why Israel has been a Nobel heavyweight.
The forum attracted university presidents and educational organizations from the two countries, who shared thoughts on how their schools were fostering an environment to enable people to pursue practical and lifelong knowledge.
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.
Yaffa Zilbershats, chairwoman of the Planning and Budgeting Committee Council for the Higher Education of Israel, called for "a new campus" that could offer life-long learning as well as personalized education for diverse populations.