The government will invest about 3 trillion won ($2.67 billion) in biotech research and human resources development to spur the growth of the biotech industry. The spending will accelerate innovative drug development, fight dementia, and nurture medical scientists.
The Ministry of Science and ICT held a meeting on comprehensive biotech policy and finalized the support plan for 2019.
The government’s supports include an aggressive research and development support for new drugs and medical devices, the integration of biotech and ICT, precision medicine, and platform development using big data from genome information.
The biotech support plan also includes the development of technologies to prevent, diagnose, and treat dementia and infectious diseases, and to contribute to the improvement of the national health and life benefits.
To ease regulation, the government said it would use the so-called regulatory sandbox to help biotech and pharmaceutical companies receive customized support for new technologies and businesses. Regulatory sandbox refers to a scheme to remove or postpone regulations to help companies provide new products or services.
The government will also develop guidelines for integrated medical devices in advance so that people could notice the government’s push for deregulation, the ministry said.
To implement the policy, the government will spend 2.85 trillion won budget.
In detail, the government will invest 2.41 trillion won in R&D, 1.59 trillion won in building infrastructure, and 276.5 billion won in reinforcing workforce.
By ministry, the Science and ICT ministry will spend 1.75 billion won, the Education Ministry, 505.7 trillion won, the Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Ministry, 326.1 billion won, the Health and Welfare Ministry, 447.2 billion won, the Trade, Industry and Energy Ministry, 268.6 billion won, and the Oceans and Fisheries Ministry, 133 billion won.
After finalizing the plan, government officials discussed how to nurture the biotech economy focusing on human resources, regulation, and private proposals.
The discussions on human resources involved specific measures following the December announcement of a plan to develop talented professionals who will lead the biotech economy.
Government officials also talked about how the deregulation in the biotech sector progressed and future steps for easing regulations.
The science and ICT ministry recently approved “demonstration exception” for genetic testing by non-medical institutions and cardiac care service through a wristwatch-like electrocardiographic device. The demonstration exception allows testing in a limited area, period, and scale to verify the safety of a new product or service before the commercialization.
In 2019, the ministry will seek revisions of the Bioethics and Safety Act and the Brain Research Promotion Act and expand demonstration exceptions and temporary approval through the regulatory sandbox program.
Seo Jeong-sun, president of the Korea Biotechnology Industry Organization, proposed the biotech industry’s recommendations to the government for 2019 at the government meeting.
Seo requested the government to seek both “nurturing policy” to build big data for precision medicine and “market expansion policy” to ease regulations.
He also asked the government to set up a comprehensive biochemical industry development strategy for eco-friendly bioplastics, to cope with global environmental issues.
Minister of Science and ICT Yoo Young Min said, “The biotechnology sector has been drawing attention as a promising sector especially after producing excellent outcomes in recent years.”
The government will fully support R&D, human resource development, and regulatory reform to help the industry achieve better results in 2019, he added.
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