In a significant move, the South Korean government has committed to providing Ghent University (UGent) with 5 million euros to establish a maritime research center in the bustling port city of

Incheon. South Korea seeks to expand its scientific understanding of biodiversity along its extensive coastline, numerous islands, and surrounding seas.

Local industries in South Korea have shown keen interest in constructing wind farms and tapping into tidal energy sources. Additionally, the country boasts significant nature reserves akin to the Wadden Sea in Europe. According to UGent professor Jana Asselman, South Korea also boasts a thriving algae aquaculture sector, making it a thriving research area.

UGent is dispatching 15 scientists to establish its inaugural "branch institute," with recruitment taking place both locally and internationally. These budding researchers will receive guidance from leading experts at UGent.

The new campus, fully funded by the South Korean government, will encompass a wide spectrum of marine research, addressing questions such as the types of fish inhabiting the region, the medicinal benefits derived from the sea, optimal locations for wind turbines, and the legal aspects of maritime activities. The primary goal is to enable UGent scientists to leverage South Korean research while gaining convenient access to the surrounding marine environment.

The South Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy granted approval and funding for the project earlier this summer. UGent's South Korean subsidiary is poised to establish new offices and laboratories early next year.

The selection of UGent for this collaboration was no accident. South Korea was impressed by the achievements of Marine@UGent, an interfaculty consortium formed a decade ago to consolidate all maritime science-related disciplines. Since its inception, Marine@UGent has grown substantially, comprising 72 research groups spanning ten faculties and involving over 500 researchers.

This partnership represents a promising endeavor in advancing marine research and fostering international cooperation between South Korea and Ghent University. Photo by Vysotsky, Wikimedia commons.