Korea Experience

From 31 October to 7 November 2015 Invio participated in a study tour to South Korea arranged for Danish innovation networks by the The Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation and the Danish Innovation Center in Seoul. Here you can read about the outputs from that tour.

30. jun 2016

The purpose of the tour was to establish links between Danish and Korean clusters, centers of knowledge and enterprises, and to sow the seeds to develop new areas of collaboration between Denmark and South Korea.  South Korea is considered to be one of Asia's Tiger Economies that over many years has achieved impressive growth. The country has developed from being one of the world's poorest in the years after the end of the Korean war in the 1950s to now being socio-economically on a level with a typical European country. In particular this impressive achievement has been driven by a strong focus on technological innovation and development, hard work (South Korea has the highest average working hours in the OECD) and a highly educated population.

The tour included a mixture of meetings with Korean clusters and scientific institutions plus participation in the annual Global TCI-Cluster Conference, the world leader with focus on the development and impact of clusters.  On its website TCI describes itself as The practitioners' Global Network for Competitiveness, Clusters and Innovation; a prestigious conference with many hundreds of participants.

Of particular relevance for Invio’s participation is the current state of the Korean economy, business life and society in general.  After the industrial and technology driven growth adventure described above, Korea finds itself today in a period of stagnation while facing strong competition from the surrounding Asian economies, especially China, on quality and particularly on price.  Therefore, there is urgent need of new ideas and innovation processes to move the South Korean economy further forward.

In that connection one of the instruments that the relatively state-controlled South Korean economy is trying to bring into play is the so-called "creative economy". Creative Economy - a term used by, among others, John Howkins is reminiscent of the understanding of "Experience Economy" that was launched in the American and Northern European  context by Joseph Pine and John Gilmore (ref. The Experience Economy, 1999), and Albert Boswijk et al. (ref. Economy of Experiences, 2012).

The creative economy describes an economic system in which human creativity and ideas become the main resources and driving force for development and innovation. Thus, there is not so much focus on individual sectors as on specific angles of development and innovation that can be equally at home in all types of branches or sectors.

Many investigations and reports point to the creative economy as a decisive competition parameter in the increasingly more global and transparent economy, where the classic competitive processes coupled with global access to resources continuously force down prices for traditional goods and products.  Therefore, South Korea has set its sights on developing the creative economy nationally and also on  the competencies and skills of its workforce to enable them to contribute positively to the national creative economy.  Very appropriately the theme for the annual TCI Conference was Clusters in a Creative Economy - New Agendas for Companies and Policy Makers.

As a national innovation network for experience economy, Invio was naturally interested to hear about the background for this planned transformation of the economy and business structure along with the conditions set in motion for its successful achievement.

And, there is weight behind the initiatives when South Korea rolls out new programmes.  Among other things, the South Korean government has established 17 so-called CCEIs (Centers for Creative Economy and Innovation) at different locations around the country.  A CCEI is a kind of start-up incubator for creative initiatives. They are typically placed as extensions to some of the industrial conglomerates (Chaebols) such as Samsung, LG. Hyundai, Lotte and Daewoo, which are part of the backbone of the South Korean business structure, and which can be sparring partners and provide other resources to the various CCEIs in the form of advice and buildings etc.; always in close collaboration with the South Korean state and the local environments.

As part of the study tour we had the pleasure of visiting the Daegu Center for Creative Economy and Innovation, which is closely connected to Samsung's headquarters where the TCI conference was held.

The study tour also offered other inspirations in the form of visits to:

·      Cheil Worldwide, which is a global branding and advertising bureau and one of Samsung's primary marketing partners.

·      Hongik University, which is one of the leading South Korean universities with focus on design and creative business.

·      Gyeongbuk Center for Creative Economy & Innovation with focus on the South Korean tourist industry, which is working to attract more foreign tourists to the country.

·      Samsung and KIT (Kumoh National Institute of Technology), South Korea's largest cluster for the development of mobile telephones and related technologies.

The TCI Conference itself also provided many interesting insights into the role of clusters in the creative economy, and many exciting case-studies about how local and regional clusters have worked with the creative economy from an innovative perspective.  Naturally, the conference also made it possible to meet many like-minded clusters and networks from around the world, exchange experiences with them and collect useful ideas to take home and use in the continuous development of Invio.

You can find presentations and other material from the TCI Conference on this link:

If you or your enterprise is interested in learning more about the possibilities for participating in the projects, please contact Invio’s Cluster Coordinator, Claus Østergaard at