KIST was founded as the first science and technology research institute of Korea in 1966 and since then, it has continually played a leading role in national development. Many government-funded research institutes have been modeled after KIST. Today KIST belongs to a group of 25 research institutes affiliated with the National Research Council of Science and Technology (NST) and the Korean Ministry of Science and ICT.
Its research is currently focused on the environment, energy, health, security, and materials. KIST collaborates with over 80 partner institutes around the world and it has also set up a number of branches and affiliated institutes abroad:
- KIST Europe in Saarbrucken
- Indo-Korea Science and Technology Center
- KIST Gangneung Institute of Natural Products (China)
- A new institute in Vietnam is to be opened in 2020 (V-KIST).
Other international activities include the transfer of KIST’s knowledge and available technology to developing counties in order to assist in their endeavor to support sustainable growth, offering a graduate program to prospective scientists and engineers through the International R&D Academy, and the implementation of campus globalization initiatives to create a research environment that is attractive to scientists and students from abroad.