Residents of Chungcheongbuk-do Province and local business leaders, I am glad to meet you all.
Some 20 years ago, the dream of creating Korea’s first bioscience complex took seed on a vast sprawling area over 4.6 million square meters here in Osong. Combined with the Participatory Government’s balanced national development policy, the dream gave rise to a forest of biosciences that houses cutting-edge enterprises and six government agencies and research institutions, including the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety. I am very pleased to unveil Korea’s biohealth industry innovation strategy here in Osong, which has set its sights on becoming a world-class bio-cluster.
A few days ago, Osong Bio Valley achieved yet another great milestone. With private businesses, academia and government agencies working together as one, Korea became the seventh country to be placed on the EU’s white list of those approved for the importation of active substances. This will facilitate shipments of Korea-made active ingredients to Europe by our bio and pharmaceutical companies. A new trail has been blazed for ever-increasing inroads into markets overseas.
From veteran public officials to the most recently assigned recruits, every civil servant has put all that they had into the preparations. Businesses have also cooperated with the same objective in mind – so much so that when an EU assessment team made a surprise visit to one of the companies in question, its flawless management revealed not a single fault.
This is something that hasn’t been made public: The EU assessment team, upon leaving Korea, gave a gift as a token of appreciation for the enthusiasm and endeavors of Korean public servants. It even showed its goodwill by releasing the news of our white list qualification at a time suited for Korea.
I’ve come to recognize once again how many accomplishments we can make when businesses and government work together as one. I applaud and commend the officials from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety and businesspeople involved.
With average life expectancy increasing worldwide, our interest has shifted from “living a long life” to “living a long, healthy life.”
This is why the biohealth industry will only keep growing and advancing.
As of 2016, the global market size of biomedicine and medical equipment had already swelled to a level valued at US$1.8 trillion. Major advanced countries are also paying attention to the biohealth industry. More than 30,000 quality jobs are being created amidst its annual growth of over 5 percent. Notably, the number of research and development jobs for young professionals far exceeds those from the semiconductor and IT sectors.
Biohealth is a young industry. Currently, biomedicine accounts for approximately 10 percent of the entire medicinal market, but it’s growing faster than any other industry. Among the 500 largest U.S. businesses in 2019, 21 of them are pharmaceutical and bioengineering companies. A significant number of them are young corporations that were founded only 30 to 40 years ago.
However, this is a demanding industry for newly rising manufacturing countries. It requires advanced research and technological prowess in various fields such as basic life science, clinical medicine and pharmacology. Sometimes, it takes over one trillion won in investments and more than a decade to develop a new drug.
However, we have talented individuals and technological prowess. Our medical science and pharmacology fields are among the best in the OECD, when considering the survival rates for those treated for major cancers. We have world-class information and communication infrastructure, hospital systems and medical data, as well as well-established and refined production management capabilities and technologies.
Our businesses are known for the spirit to take on challenges that surpasses that of businesses in advanced nations. Several domestic companies have taken on a challenge and succeeded in areas regarded as “reckless.’’ One startup has developed new medicine, and an SME built up its capabilities through consignment-based production enough to dominate the new global biosimilar market ahead of others.
As of last year, domestic companies accounted for two-thirds of the global biosimilar market, and they rank second in the world in terms of the amount of biopharmaceutical production. Last year alone saw exports of new drug technologies worth US$4.8 billion, and outbound shipments of pharmaceuticals and medical devices totaled US$14.4 billion – an annual increase of 20 percent.
Now is our best chance to take the lead in the global biohealth market. Even at this moment, Korean companies are conducting several clinical trials all over the world. New blockbuster drugs produced in Korea will be available in the not-too-distant future. The age when pharmaceutical and bioengineering industries lead our economy will arrive before too long.
Fellow Koreans, residents of Chungcheongbuk-do and local businesspeople,
My Administration has designated biohealth as one of three new key industries, and the number of startups and venture investments have been increasing by a large margin in recent years. By 2030, we aim to capture 6 percent of the global pharmaceutical and medical device market, increase related exports to US$50 billion and foster biohealth as one of the nation’s five mainstay export industries.
The degree of our success in the global biohealth market depends on our businesses and talented individuals. The Government will nurture professionals indispensable for research and the utilization of big data in the pharmaceutical and biohealth sectors, thereby helping our country realize its dream of emerging as a biohealth pacesetter.
On top of this, what the Government has to do is pave the way and create an industrial ecosystem that allows businesses and professionals to take up a challenge with no hesitation whatsoever. The biohealth innovation strategy to be unveiled today has been formulated after a series of meetings with those from related industries.
Despite sufficient infrastructure and technologies, some businesses still face a shortage of financial resources for their clinical trials overseas. Some lack professionals for commercialization. It is especially regrettable that some companies were unable to break into domestic and overseas markets despite having good ideas.
The Government will provide full support to help the private sector demonstrate entrepreneurship. In particular, we will do our best to create an ecology of innovation tailored to all stages of growth from technological development and approval and licensing to production and launch to ensure that mid-market companies, small and medium-sized enterprises and startups can stand tall as the driving forces of the industry.
To prevent businesses from giving up technological development due to a shortage of capital, government investments in research and development will be expanded to more than 4 trillion won annually by 2025. The Government will invest more than 2 trillion won in the biohealth industry over the next five years through an exclusive scale-up fund. It will also increase tax credits for R&D and facility investments by businesses.
The Government will ensure that our strength in data is used for developing innovative medicines. Five major big data platforms will be set up. We will also foster those hospitals and medical institutions with the highest level of technologies as hubs of innovation ecology that will serve as outposts for future medical technology research and technology commercialization.
With an eye toward entry into global markets, regulations will be rationalized to meet global standards. However, the health and lives of the people and, moreover, bioethics will be protected without fail. The level of expertise in evaluations will be raised, the number of evaluators will be drastically increased, and the time needed for the approval and licensing of new tech products will be reduced further.
The Government will also establish a cooperative system to link leading companies with startups and provide support to ensure that Korea’s advanced medical technology, information technology, human resources and systems can be packaged and exported.
Fellow Koreans and Chungcheongbuk-do residents,
Challenges taken and investments made by businesses are national assets. I ask you to support biohealth industry leaders who are not content to stay on well-trodden paths but are creating new growth engines for the Republic of Korea by constantly taking on challenges and making investments that are one step ahead.
Following today’s announcement of the national biohealth innovation vision, Chungcheongbuk-do will lay out measures on how to foster the biohealth industry. The province set an ambitious goal to invest 8.2 trillion won in 120 biohealth field-related tasks by 2030, thereby becoming a leader in the Republic of Korea’s biohealth industry. The Government will stand by its side.
If our country captures the No. 1 spot in the new field of biohealth globally, the Republic of Korea will be the first place to make the wish to live a long, healthy life come true.
I hope that a new wind of economic vitality, along with the dream of protecting the people’s health, will rise here in Chungcheongbuk-do, the land of life and sun.