Korea’s biotech production grows over 4% to W8.9tr

By Sohn Ji-young
  • Published : Dec 12, 2017 - 15:26
  • Updated : Dec 12, 2017 - 15:26
South Korea’s biotechnology sector production grew 4.4 percent on-year to 8.88 trillion won ($8.14 billion) in 2016, buttressed by robust growth of the medical device and biotech services segments, according to government statistics released Tuesday.

The data was compiled by Korea’s Ministry of Industry, Trade and Commerce which conducted a survey of 980 local biotechnology companies in 2016. The results are now being announced here. 


Korea’s biotech industry revolves mainly around medicine and food. In 2016, biotech-driven medicine (40.7 percent) and food (37.8 percent) segments accounted for nearly 80 percent of the country’s biotech production, according to the ministry’s data.

Likewise, the industry’s production growth in 2016 was pulled by the medical device segment which grew 266.8 percent on-year. Biotech services, including contract drug manufacturing, also rose 134.9 percent during the period, contributing to the sector’s overall growth.

Korea’s biotech industry also pulled in more investment in 2016 compared to the previous year. It attracted 1.96 trillion won in investment last year, marking a 13.9 percent increase from 2015.

In terms of employment, there were 41,899 people working in the biotech industry in 2016, which is 4 percent more than the previous year’s count. Of them, around 26.3 percent possessed a master’s or doctorate degree, suggesting the industry’s strong links to advanced life sciences research.

Meanwhile, the biotech sector’s total export volume reached 4.46 trillion won in 2016, up 3.7 percent on-year, exceeding net imports of 1.46 trillion won, setting a trade surplus, the ministry said.

In addition, 651 out of the 980 biotech firms surveyed, or 66 percent, were generating a revenue in 2016, the data showed. Of the 651 revenue-making firms, just 225, or 34.6 percent, held revenues exceeding 1 billion won.

The remaining 329 biotech firms, around 33.5 percent of the total surveyed, were not generating any form of revenue in 2016.

By Sohn Ji-young (