The government said it would invest 500 billion won ($442 million) in developing 100 new drug candidates for the next 10 years. It also will establish a 1 trillion-won fund to create five home-grown blockbuster medicines that can make 1 trillion won in revenue in the global market.
The Ministry of Science and ICT said it approved the “Bio-Economy Initiative 2025” on Wednesday at a bioengineering policy assessment meeting with related ministries, including the Ministry of Health and Welfare.
The initiative seeks to raise Korea’s share of the global bioengineering market to 5 percent with an output of 152 trillion won by 2025, from the current 1.7 percent with the output of 27 trillion won.
Under the plan, the government will launch a project to discover another 100 new drug candidates by 2026, while the number currently stands at 85. The project is called “Discovering and Securing State New Drug Pipeline,” with the government spending 500 billion won in R&D for new drug candidates that will be jointly pushed by companies, schools, think tanks and hospitals.
Officials are currently conducting a preliminary feasibility study on the project.
The project will call for the government to support R&D costs for creating a business or transferring technologies in the prior or posterior stage of all clinical trials.
The government’s “New Drug Mega Fund,” larger than 1 trillion won, will support international clinical trials, global sales, and marketing, with investment coming from the government, business, financial institutions and foreign investors.
The initiative also aims to create biotechnology-based jobs to 145,000 by 2025 from 26,000 in 2015. Officials calculate that the project can create new 120,000 jobs by supporting new 1,250 ventures, 30 Kosdaq-listed firms armed with technology and four global companies, and by making two global biotech clusters.
The ministry has set up a goal to boost exports of biotechnologies by 500 percent to $2.73 billion by 2025 from $522 million in 2015.
It plans to expand the number of subsidies for bio-health R&D to 10,000 by 2025 from 7,000 in 2015, to tackle social issues such as public health, food safety, environment, and energy preservation. As of 2017, the government is spending 40 billion won as R&D budget to overcome dementia, 117 billion won to prevent and control infections, 66 billion won to solve environmental issues such as fine dust and 25 billion won to develop environment-friendly bio-health materials.
The government also aims to accelerate Big Data-using bio-health studies such as precision medicine researches, brain studies, and next-generation medical equipment, nurturing digital healthcare and bioresearch as “integrated new industries.”
Through a global clinical trial project, it aims to make at least three contract research organizations (CRO) with more than 50 billion won in annual revenue by 2025. Currently, there is no CRO whose annual sales exceed 50 billion won in Korea. The government also seeks to nurture local manufacturers of bioindustry’s core equipment, parts, and materials, which have been mostly imported to date, by supporting their technology development and market tapping in a packaged deal.
The initiative will also encourage hospitals to become bases for innovation of the bio-health industry. The government will revise current measures to allow hospitals to carry out bio-health R&D and business activities.
“The social demand for biotechnologies will rise with population aging, increasing infectious diseases, needs for safe foods and fight against climate change. We expect a bio-economy to emerge as a new economic paradigm,” the ministry said. “Winner takes it all in the biotechnology industry, which is driven by science and advanced technologies. We will strategically nurture it to make Korea a global bio-economic power.”
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