Korea will spend 349 billion won (US$328 million) this year to develop new biotechnology, the government said on Jan. 2.
The 2018 budget, a 10.5-percent increase from a year earlier, is aimed at developing key biotech sectors, such as genomes and brain science, the Ministry of Science and ICT said.
Of the total, 59.4 billion won will be allocated to help develop new pills as Seoul is determined to become a global power in the pharmaceutical and health care fields.
In recent years, local bio companies have become more competitive on the global stage on the back of robust R&D spending and policy support from the government, the ministry said. However, Korea still lags behind leaders in the development of new drugs, especially so-called blockbuster pills.
A total of 27 Korean drugs have been permitted to reach the shelves of domestic drugstores since SK Global Chemical’s anti-cancer injection Sunpla was first approved in 1999.
In addition, 25.3 billion won is earmarked for the development of medical instruments and 38 billion won to carry out research into brain science, officials said.
The ministry said it also aims to spend the budget to provide an environment where young researchers can freely focus on R&D in medicine and medical devices.
Alex Lee and newswires (email@example.com