] South Korea outlined grand plans on Sept. 8 to fuel the growth of the country’s bio-health industry, aiming to become a global powerhouse.
The comprehensive plan for the next four years was finalized in a meeting presided over by Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn and announced by the Health Ministry.
Under the plan, South Korea aims to become a global biotech and medical industry hub by investing more in research and development on medicine, medical devices and cosmetics.
The government forecast that 940,000 new jobs will be created by 2020 in the industry that is widely viewed as the nation’s next growth engine after IT.
Higher tax benefits and incentives for clinical trials of indigenous drugs and investment on R&D facilities will be offered, officials said.
“The government plans to support various measures so that our products in medical, medical instruments and cosmetics sectors would lead the global market where there is fierce competition,” said an official.
The government will also expand the R&D budget for the development of various medical devices and put effort into improving distribution channels to further foster exports.
To further enhance competitiveness, the government plans to increase the number of homegrown drugs from the current three to 17 by 2020. Also, the government plans to expand support to local drug firms in an aim to expand the number of generic drugs from five in 2015 to 10 by 2020, officials said.
“The global bio-health industry is forecast to increase by 5.3 percent annually from 2015 to 2010 to become almost $11 trillion,” said a ministry official. “South Korea will be able to grow into the global powerhouse with good manpower and technology.”
The local bio-health industry only accounts for 1.4 percent of the global market, data showed. However, the local industry is forecast to log an annual 5.7 percent growth by 2020.
The ministry said it will support expanding R&D investment in anti-aging products and other cosmetics.
It will expand the R&D budget for the development of stem cell and gene therapy as well as create funds to support bio startups.
The government said it aims to commercialize stem cell research to further apply to patients by streamlining relevant policies and paperwork.
The ministry also rolled out measures to expand the growth of precision medicine, one of nine strategic projects announced earlier by the government aimed at securing the nation’s new growth engines and enhancing the quality of life for the general populace.
The government said it plans to build a genome database from more than 100,000 participants and establish a platform so that relevant institutions can share such information.
The government also aims to more than double the number of foreigners visiting South Korea for medical purposes from 300,000 in 2015 to 750,000 in 2020.