Speaking in Zug, Europe’s “Crypto Valley”, Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, reaffirmed his campaign promises by announcing a robust plan for blockchain funding and development in the capital city.
During his Crypto Valley stop on an 11-day European excursion, Park revealed his intentions to foster blockchain technologies in Seoul with a city government fund of KRW 100 billion (USD 88.9 million) for blockchain startups by 2022.
Korean news website Joongang Daily reported that local government entities will too be building on this. The Seoul Metropolitan Government said that it is set to establish two technology complexes by 2021; it will house a total of 200 blockchain companies at the Gaepo Digital Innovation Park and the Seoul Innovation Hub.
In a statement, the Seoul Metropolitan Government also said, “In the Gaepo Digital Innovation Park, we intend to build a separate blockchain building by 2021 to attract start-ups, small and medium-sized companies as well as conglomerates working in the field both in and out of the country to do more R&D work in the sector.”
There are also plans in place to establish two training centers at these locations to nurture a new generation of 730 blockchain experts over the next five years. South Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT approximates that there are presently around 600 blockchain experts in Korea, claiming that this is not enough to have a “globally competitive edge in the sector”.
The famed Crypto Valley of Zug in Switzerland is where renowned blockchain firms such as the Ethereum Foundation and ConsenSys operate. According to South Korean media outlet Yonhap News, Zug is also home to around 250 “blockchain-based” companies.
Park said at Zug city hall, “It is the plan of the Seoul city government to create an ecosystem of blockchain here, with hopes that the city will be globally recognized as a blockchain hub… We will try to attract many blockchain experts into Seoul, just like Zug. For this, we will need to establish an environment that is friendly for innovative blockchain companies.”
Seoul, “Testbed City”
The city is also to experiment with 14 blockchain projects over these next five years, as part of this plan, blockchain technology will be implemented into Seoul’s administrative processes, which Park believes will “set a precedent for all cities in Korea”.
Referencing the 1.15 million people in Seoul who are recipients of welfare funds, the mayor believes that the blockchain will remove the difficulties of paperwork and verification processes that usually go through multiple agencies before they can get support.
He adds, “Seoul is truly a testbed city for the technology. And I think if anyone, the city government of Seoul should lead this innovation.”
A notable project that was revealed is the combination of blockchain tech and a voting platform, which according to the city government, will increase public confidence in vote results. This project appears to offer versatile options beyond that of the political spheres.
To give an example, Park described a scenario in which tenants of an apartment complex in Seoul could vote on whether or not it should be renovated, and that blockchain technology enables this system to be trustworthy and increase voter turnouts.
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