IS SOUTH KOREA A PLAUSIBLE CANDIDATE TO REIGN THE GLOBAL BIOTECHNOLOGICAL MARKET IN THE COMING YEARS?
The global biotechnological market has experienced rapid growth over the past two decades. Although predominated by European and North American countries, investors are now targeting the South-Asian markets to further their research. In fact, in recent years, emerging economies have surpassed their more developed counterparts in many scientific departments. One such South Asian technological destination is South Korea. The country has exhibited a tremendous growth potential in the last few years. Therefore, it was not surprising when the country topped the list of Bloomberg’s world’s 50 most innovative countries in the year 2017.
The pursuit for this excellence started way back in the 1980s when the foundation for biotechnology was first laid in this country. However, it wasn’t until 2006 that the government published “The 2nd Framework Plan for the Promotion of Biotechnology” to bolster its biotechnological industry. With adherence to this framework, the Korean government’s most ambitious project “Bio-vision 2016” was established. This 10-year plan was fostered with an intention to bring the Korean market on par with its global counterparts. The program was a major success. The Korean biotechnology market that stood at a mere KRW 2.7 trillion at the start of this project catapulted successfully to KRW 60 trillion by the end of 2016.1
Heavy investments in the region can be primarily credited to this market proliferation. It is estimated that since the year 1994, the annual average investment rate has reached nearly 24%. A major USP for this market is the significant number of technical experts engaged in this field. According to a recent survey, the number of people with master or PhD degrees in the country accounted for over 40% of the total number of working professionals. To make the most of this skilled workforce, the Korean government has also undertaken several initiatives. Today, there are nearly 28 biotechnology centres spread over 13 cities and provinces of Korea. Some of the top Korean institutes engaged in Biotechnological research include Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology (KRIBB), Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine (KIOM), Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology (KRICT), Mogam Biotechnology Research Institute (MBRI) and National Cancer Center (NCC). Kyu Tae Chang, the president of the KRIBB, believes that biotechnology is the new hope for future as it “holds the potential to make the impossible possible”.
It is because of the support of such robust scientific research that many biotech and life science enterprises have emerged in the Korean market. Some of these noted companies include Daewon Pharma, Alteogen, PharmAbsciene, Medipost, Aprogen, SillaJen Biotherapeutics, Dong-A Pharmaceutical, Celltrion, and Qurient. A majority of these companies are focused on areas like biomedicines, bio foods, biochemistry, and environmental products. From the year 2006, the country has also dived into research pertaining to biotechnological reagents, marine biotechnology, DNA Vaccines, biological imaging, Digital polymerase chain reactions, single cell analysis, stem cell assays, CRISPR, genetic testing, and other advanced biotech technologies. The country has also exhibited a remarkable growth in drug discovery. As many as 14 new drugs have been discovered in Korea over the past 20 years. This is indeed a remarkable feat!
Because of all these ongoing biotechnological activities, several global giants such as Janssen, Takeda, Pfizer, Bayer Healthcare, and GlaxoSmithKline are also increasingly collaborating with some of the aforementioned companies. If this trend continues, the Korean biotechnology market’s acme would surely reach its zenith in the next 10 years!