Nearly $1 billion pledged to biopharm, medical firms

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Nearly $1 billion pledged to biopharm, medical firms

Government officials including Choi Nam-ho, director-general of manufacturing at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, fourth from left, cuts a ribbon at a ceremony launching a joint government team to promote and support Korea's biopharmaceutical and medical industries in Seoul on Wednesday. [YONHAP]

Government officials including Choi Nam-ho, director-general of manufacturing at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, fourth from left, cuts a ribbon at a ceremony launching a joint government team to promote and support Korea's biopharmaceutical and medical industries in Seoul on Wednesday. [YONHAP]

Taking advantage of a moment of prominence for Korea's biopharmaceutical and medical industries, the central government on Wednesday announced an initiative to invest 1.2 trillion won ($977 million) in those projects over the next six years.

 
The announcement is part of the government's efforts to expand the presence of what it calls the "K-bio" industry on the global stage. 
 
Government funding will account for 987.6 billion won of the total, while the private sector will chip in 209.6 billion won.
 
Four government departments — the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, Ministry of Science and ICT, Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety — will be cooperating on the initiative.
 
The government also announced the launch of a team of representatives from the four ministries which will focus on medical equipment research and development. The team will be led by Kim Beop-min, a biomedical engineering professor at Korea University.  
 
In a joint statement, the ministries noted that the project is a response to Korea’s medical equipment and services gaining credibility in the global market amid the country's successful response to the coronavirus outbreak.
 
The team will select strategic areas in which to expand Korea’s global market share, while developing core parts and elementary technology that will strengthen Korea’s value chain. The team will also work to develop technologies to establish the industry's position in future markets and support research and development (R&D) by streamlining the typically strict government approval process.
 
One of the areas that the government plans to focus its efforts will be developing core parts in ventilators and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machines.
 
“In order to strengthen competitiveness in the medical device industry, there’s a need for speeding up market entry through R&D support and approval, including licensing, early creation of markets, support in overseas expansion with global companies and financial aid,” said Choi Nam-ho, director-general of the manufacturing industry department at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
 
BY LEE HO-JEONG   [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]

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