Iran agree on Osong investment

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Iran agree on Osong investment

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North Chungcheong Gov. Lee Si-jong, center, and representatives of the Iranian government celebrate an agreement to invest 2 billion dollars over the next 10 years in medical infrastructure in Osong. Provided by the North Chungcheong government

A consortium of the Iranian government will invest $2 billion in the establishment of medical infrastructure in Osong, North Chungcheong, contributing to the Korean province’s goal of becoming a global bio and medical industry mecca.

According to the Chungbuk Free Economic Zone (FEZ) Authority, a consortium led by the Iranian government has agreed to invest for the next 10 years in building a research center, new drug production plant and a clinical trial hospital within the FEZ’s Biovalley.

This is the first foreign direct investment that the FEZ authority has attracted since it was first designated in 2013.

The consortium will initially invest $2 million in setting up a special purpose company (SPC) within the next month.

That company will fund the construction of a joint research lab within the Osong’s new drug development center by Oct. 1. The lab will develop new drugs using Iranian genetic material.

After the research facility opens, the SPC will invest in the construction of a production plant for new drugs that will meet the World Health Organization’s good manufacturing practices standard. It will also build a clinical trial hospital and a production line for generic drugs.

“The significance of the agreement is huge, because Korea has secured the Iranian genetic material at a point when the Nagoya Protocol is in effect,” said Lee Bong-hee, head of the joint center between Gachon University and Sigma-Aldrich on regenerative medicine.

The Nagoya Protocol is an international agreement that went into effect in October creating a legal framework to ensure that companies and governments only utilize genetic resources that are acquired legally.

The signing ceremony included North Chungcheong Gov. Lee Si-jong, FEZ Authority Commissioner Jeon Sang-heon and Mahmoud Khodadoust, deputy minister of the Iranian Health Ministry, among others.

“Further, Signam-Aldrich would like to confirm that they have no working relationship or intended relationship with the Iranian Government through this project or any other investment initiatives.”

BY LEE HO-JEONG [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]

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