South Korea plots $7B AI chip drive

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol (pictured) pledged the government would spend KRW9.4 trillion ($6.9 billion) on the domestic AI sector by 2027, along with detailing a KRW1.4 billion investment package to fuel the growth of local semiconductor companies.

The President outlined the AI-semiconductor incentive during a meeting with politicians and chip industry bosses, a session attended by executives from SK Hynix, Samsung Electronics, Naver and Sapeon.

In his speech, Suk Yeol said it was time for the country to focus on creating “next-generation semiconductor products”, as well as neural processing units and neuromorphic devices designed to run machine learning algorithms.

This will involve “boldly” expanding investment in R&D on the said technologies.

“Just as we have dominated the world with memory semiconductors over the past 30 years, we will write a new semiconductor legend with AI semiconductors over the next 30 years”, the president said.

An AI strategy council established last week will become “a national AI committee” with the president planning to “personally take charge of” Korea’s strategy for the technology.

To further boost this ambition, a special presidential committee will be set-up to assist with a national AI strategy and promote public-private partnerships.

The president expects the new funding scheme will enable South Korea to become one of the world’s top three countries when it comes to AI innovation.

Chip-related products account for 20 per cent of South Korea’s exports, and he argued the “future of the world’s semiconductor industry lies in AI”.

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