SEOUL -- South Korea's science ministry said Monday it will spend 669.3 billion won (US$626 million) this year on developing core nanotechnology know-how to improve the competitiveness of the country's industrial sector.

The 2018 spending plan is up from 514.1 billion won earmarked in 2017 and aims to develop key technologies that can be applied in various industrial areas, the Ministry of Science and ICT said.

Nanotechnology refers to the process of making nanometer-scale materials to create more stable and precise products that also often have new and better characteristics. One nanometer is equal to one-billionth of a meter.

Of the total, 572 billion won will be allocated to develop indigenous technologies and also to commercialize those that have already been developed to boost the global market share of local companies, the science ministry said.

Under a joint development plan with other related government agencies, the government will invest 44.6 billion won in 2018 alone to nurture skilled workers in the sector.

The government will spend 52.7 billion won this year on developing infrastructure that will include a new evaluation system to check the performance of any nanotechnology product, according to the ministry. (Yonhap)