KICT Supports Construction SMEs to Overcome COVID-19 Crisis
- Largest support project for COIVD-19 with funding of up to KRW 6.2 billion
- Technology enhancement, employment retention, and continuous business activities all to be supported through the project
The Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology is currently promoting the most generously funded project from among government-funded institutes to help SMEs in the construction field to effectively cope with the COVID-19 crisis.
The 6.2 billion won project, planned by the Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology (KICT, President Seung Heon Han) is called the “KICT SME Support Project for COVID-19 Response” (hereinafter “KICT COVID-19 Support Project”). This project is intended to support SMEs in the construction sector that have become economically vulnerable due to the outbreak of the pandemic and to help them overcome the economic fallout. The comprehensive package project utilizes KICT resources, including funding, research manpower, and infrastructure, to help SMEs develop their technical skills and maintain their employment of research personnel. KICT resources are also being used to support marketing efforts and to provide SMEs with consultation services, such as for the settlement of disputes related to overseas construction projects.
According to a recent SME survey conducted in May 2020, about 8 out of 10 SMEs are facing business difficulties due to the coronavirus. To overcome the pandemic on a national scale, government ministries in Korea are operating various SME support programs. However, more than half (61%) of these projects are focused on temporary measures, such as simple financial support or labor cost support.
The project being operated by the KICT, a government-funded research institute, is different in that it focuses on strengthening the short- and mid-term R&D capabilities of SMEs in the construction sector so that they are better prepared for the post-coronavirus era. As such, the project does not provide temporary relief and expense support for overcoming the crisis, but rather seeks to empower SMEs by enhancing their R&D capabilities and maintaining the stable employment of their research personnel so that they can not only survive the COVID-19 crisis, but can also survive the expected economic crisis post-pandemic.
The KICT COVID-19 Support Project is further divided into three main projects: the Demand-Based SME Technology Support Project; Customized Direct Support Project for SME Growth; and SME Consulting Project for Seamless Business Activities. There are also seven sub-programs that provide detailed support to the three main projects. These different forms of support, as well as additional customized support projects, are designed to strengthen the research capacities of about 120 participating SMEs. All of these forms of support are designed to help the SMEs retain their current research staff of about 90 people and further secure additional research personnel.
“The construction industry is the nation's industrial base, and it is critically important to secure innovative capabilities in this field, so that it is not shaken by the [COVID-19] crisis.” said President Seung Heon Han of the KICT. “We will fulfill our role and responsibilities as a government institute by promoting support projects to help Korean companies secure technological competitiveness. We will also continue our research projects to share in the growth of SMEs in the construction industry and to solve national and social problems.”
More information on the program can be found by visiting the website of the KICT COVID-19 Support Project (www.kictsmes.com). Companies wishing to join the program may apply online through the website by June 12 (Friday).