[THE INVESTOR] The Korean government has announced that it will designate the biotechnology industry as one of the country’s innovation sectors to fuel the economy by removing unnecessary regulations and increasing investments.
Hoping to see a growth spurt led by innovative technology-driven businesses, the government had named eight fields that it plans to deregulate in December last year. The list includes big-data and superfast-connection backed digital services, automated factory, smart farming, fintech, renewable energy sources, smart urban designing, drone and automated vehicles.
“(The government) had long been considering including the biotech industry as an innovation leading sector,” Deputy Prime Minister Kim Dong-yeon, who doubles up as finance minister, told reporters during a press conference on Aug. 9. The government plans to inject some 30 trillion won (US$26.70 billion) in the select areas by 2022.
The country’s biopharma sector, which has been in the limelight in recent years due to an array of licensing-out deals to export biosimilars and oncology therapies will be the last to join the list with Kim’s remarks.
The inclusion coincided with Samsung Group’s announcement on Aug. 8 that it will make investments worth 180 trillion won (US$160 billion), including 50 trillion won overseas, over the next three years in response to the government’s growing calls for the nation’s largest conglomerate to play a bigger role in economic recovery and job creation.
Samsung Group Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong emphasized the importance of its biopharma units -- contract drug manufacturer Samsung BioLogics and biosimilar developer Samsung Bioepis -- calling them the group’s next growth engines during a meeting with Kim on Aug. 6.
“Large conglomerates are key partners for innovative growth. The government will continue to meet with conglomerates as well as small and medium enterprises in pursuit of the goal,” Kim said.
In response to Samsung Bioepis CEO Ko Han-sung’s request to ease procedural hurdles and offer tax incentives for the biopharma sector, Kim said he will review the issues with related government ministries.
On Aug. 6, Ko discussed with government officials three issues that hamper the industry’s development -- heavy involvement in setting medicine prices, limited tax breaks for clinical trial expenditure and outdated regulations on customs process a company faces when importing active pharma ingredients.
By Park Han-na (email@example.com)