A South Korean minister is leading a trade delegation to South Yorkshire for the first time - attracted by the region’s advanced manufacturing prowess.
A 30-strong group of politicians, officials and entrepreneurs - led by minister Jeonghwa Han - will visit the region, during which delegates will visit the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in Rotherham on Tuesday May 19.
It is the first visit outside of London by a Korean minister. It is hoped that this visit will pave the way for future events building links between the region and South Korea which has a manufacturing-based economy.
The aim is to establish links that could result in Korean companies establishing a presence in South Yorkshire.
The visit has been organised by Dabriel Choi, UK chapter head of INKE (the International Network of Korean Entrepreneurs), Rotherham Investment and Development Office and Sheffield University and will involve UKTI, Rotherham Council and the Local Enterprise Partnership as well as representatives from businesses in the South Yorkshire region.
The Koreans’ key delegates include minister Jeonghwa Han, chief executive of the Small and Medium Enterprise Association, Eungkeol Kim, first secretary of the Embassy of the Republic of Korea, public procurement service and Jonwon Park, consul of commerce at the Embassy of the Republic of Korea economic department. About 15 Korean companies will be sending chief executive-level representatives.
Tim O’Connell, head of business and retail investment at RiDO, said the Koreans had heard about advanced manufacturing developments and the proposed Innovation District - a cluster of hi-tech firms - and wanted to talk to companies they could partner with.
“I think they’re coming because we have a lot of really good stuff happening, particularly around advanced manufacturing.
“We were able to show them we are open for business, supportive, interested and proactive in bringing investment into the region.
“We want to build a relationship with the Korean government and overseas investment department and get on the radar of investors and show them we have a really strong manufacturing supply chain and we’re well positioned for those wanting to get into the European market.”
Plans include a visit to the Rolls Royce Factory of the Future - part of Sheffield University’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre - where work on developing advanced machining techniques takes place.
Delegates will also attend a conference and networking sessions at the nearby Technology Centre, on the Advanced Manufacturing Park.
During the event, INKE will host a dinner at the opulent Cutlers’ Hall in Sheffield city centre with keynote speakers and musical entertainment from tenors Ji-min Park, Jung Soo Yun and Hyun Kim and concert pianist Sung Hee Nho.
Master Cutler David Grey said: “I am delighted to be welcoming a South Korean delegation to the Cutlers Hall. Sheffield City Region is the at the heart of UK manufacturing and is natural home for International businesses looking set up here.
“This is a great opportunity for this region not only to welcome those businesses, but also to explore opportunities to increase exports.”