By Kim Yoo-chul
Samsung Electronics will invest 5 trillion won ($4.5 billion) to build five new research and development (R&D) centers in Korea over the next three years, company officials said Tuesday.
"R&D is crucial to ensuring success in the rapidly-changing consumer electronics industry. Total investment will amount to 5 trillion won," a Samsung official told The Korea Times, asking not to be named.
The official said that the money will be used to build five R&D centers. Under the plan, it has spent around 800 billion won in constructing R5, a research institute in Suwon designed to develop smart devices.
Samsung will spend 1.2 trillion won to build a cutting-edge design research center in Woomyeon-dong, southern Seoul. The center will begin operating from June 2015.
The design center will house some 10,000 Samsung designers, software developers and strategists. The center will be designed to help researchers maximize creativity.
Near the R5 building, it will also construct a parts-development center in order to study next-generation materials and components to be used in upcoming products.
In Hwaseong and Pyeongtaek, Samsung is also building new research centers that are focused on chips and flat-screens.
Gyeonggi Province plans to offer financial and administrative packages to help Samsung lower the financial burden, said officials at the regional government.
The Hwaseong and Pyeongtaek centers will start operating from 2014.
The move to build advanced research centers is being pursued because Samsung believes that innovation is the key to success in the future technology market.
"Given heated competition in the consumer electronics market, odds can be in favor or against us depending on how to prepare and cope with it," said another Samsung official.
Samsung made a record investment in 2012.
Its R&D spending reached a record 11.9 trillion won last year, compared with the previous year's 10.3 trillion won.
"R&D may not generate tangible results in the short term. But the key point is that Samsung can't survive, if it fails to develop products that can give value to customers," said a Samsung researcher only identified as Kim.
"Much of the remarkable progress in fields such as mobile computing and medicine has been possible thanks to the advancement of information technology backed increased spending on research."