UK – Republic of Korea Innovation Twins Programme

Innovation Twinning supports the development of meaningful, long-term, city-to-city relationships. As the UK and the Republic of Korea will celebrate 140 years of diplomatic relations, opportunities for partnership has never been stronger.

With Connected Places Catapult leading the mission alongside the UK Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) and Innovate UK in partnership with selected cities across both nations, the project is dedicated to driving the development of place-based research and innovation opportunities in both nations. The creation of mutually beneficial partnerships have the potential to unlock international market opportunities, shared research initiatives and deliver on policy agendas of growth, inclusivity and sustainability.

The United Kingdom and the Republic of Korea are both powerhouses of science and technology, with a longstanding history in the development and testing of cutting-edge innovation. The UK ranked as the 4th most innovative country* globally, and Korea follows closely in 6th place, investing nearly five percent of GDP in research and development. The Republic of Korea is a recognised global leader in smart cities development and has led the way in the design and construction of new city environments. It has also recognised the challenges of urban development and is promoting policies similar to that of the Levelling Up agenda in the UK.

Today, both nations see innovation as a key driver of economic growth and prosperity, as well as being a critical path to supporting decarbonisation objectives. These large-scale challenges cannot be solved alone, and both nations recognise the power of international collaboration for driving positive change.

The programme aims to support job creation in both geographies to provide global access for participating entities, promote shared socio-economic prosperity, and to facilitate lasting research and innovation collaborations. The mobilisation of each city’s innovation ecosystem will be a driving force behind this collaboration in three key areas:

  • Civic/policy knowledge share and exchange.
  • Academic collaboration on applied research, science and technology.
  • Business collaboration focusing on knowledge exchange, peer-to-peer collaboration, and fostering business opportunities for both respective cities.

Based on prior phases of research, four high-potential pairs of city regions from across the UK and South Korea have been identified, including Belfast and Sejong, Liverpool City Region and Busan, Birmingham and Ulsan, as well as Glasgow and Daegu. Draft roadmaps offering a clear direction of travel for the city region collaborations are being developed in each case, identifying areas for collaboration and tangible project opportunities.

Further information 

The Liverpool City Region is one of only four places selected to take part in the government’s UK-Republic of Korea Innovation Twins Programme, delivered by Connected Places Catapult, leveraging Liverpool’s world-class innovation ecosystem to drive international collaboration. Read about a five-year deal with Liverpool City Region and Busan Metropolitan City in South Korea.

For further information about this project, contact Gareth Rhys Davies, Head of Asia – Innovation Twins

Learn more about the innovation twins project from a report from October 2021.

CP Catapult Report – UK South Korea Twins
File Type: pdfFile size: 8.2MB

Innovation Twins: Belfast Sejong Roadmap

Launched in Sejong in April 2024 with both the Mayors of Belfast and Sejong, this is the first roadmap launched for Innovation Twins: UK Korea.

This roadmap outlines the first set of joint proposals for impactful collaborations between businesses, institutions, and city governments.

Innovation Twins: Belfast Sejong Roadmap
File Type: pdfFile size: 5.8MB

Read more about the background to ‘city twinning’.


The image features the logo of the Department for Science, Innovation & Technology, with its name written in bold black text next to a coat of arms.