South Korea is planning to nurture the biotechnology industry as a new economic growth engine. Choo Kyung-ho, Korea’s Finance Minister, announced on Wednesday that they are working to ease regulations and build a friendly environment for healthcare startups.
They are looking to empower biotechnology startups by giving them access to a wide database of government-owned health insurance agencies as well as private hospitals. The government intends to decisively relax rules. It’s levelling the ground for more data-based healthcare businesses.
The Korean finance minister underscored the potential of the biotechnology industry during his visit to Aprogen Inc., a prominent biopharmaceutical company. According to him, the biotechnology industry is an up-and-coming sector. It fosters the development of other industries, new advanced technologies and also cultivates innovations. The government is planning to strengthen the biotechnology industry just like the semiconductor industry.
As per the finance minister, South Korea will soon officially announce detailed information on how the country will strengthen and support the domestic biotechnology industry in its growth. The research, development, manufacturing, and commercialization of biotech products will require substantial investments as well. However, with a solid plan for the biotechnology industry, the government is striving to attract investment into the sector.
In 2021, the Korean biotechnology industry’s exports amounted to around 11.9 trillion South Korean won. This figure was higher than the previous year’s exports. In the same year, there were 333 pharmaceutical companies in the country. Similarly, there were about 376 biochemical, bioenergy companies, and bio food companies in total operating in Korea. Since 2004, South Korea’s biotechnology exports have been steadily increasing.
The Korean government is currently focused on fostering data-driven healthcare startups. The government is trying to accelerate its research and development work.
10 years funding plan for research institutes, healthcare startups, and other platforms
Last year, South Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT announced its aim to invest around 400 billion won in the research and development of new biotechnologies in the next ten years. The ministry also announced that it’s going to reduce dependence on biotechnologies from foreign companies. Instead, they are focusing on securing more domestic biotechnologies.
The government further announced that it will also introduce several infrastructures and platforms that can help the local biotechnology industry.
In March this year, US-based venture capital firm Orange Grove Bio formed a strategic collaboration with Yonsei University Health System (YUHS), a leading medical institution in South Korea, and Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH), a private research institute. Together, the three will strengthen the biotechnology entrepreneurial ecosystem in South Korea.
Orange Grove Bio, YUHS, and POSTECH will facilitate the translation of scientific discoveries made by researchers at both educational institutions. They will also develop and commercialize novel therapeutics.
Under the partnership, several graduate internship programs will be introduced at YUHS and POSTECH. This will be an opportunity for students to gain first-hand experience in the biotechnology industry by working closely with reputed companies.