South Korean President inspects biotech cluster in Songdo

South Korean President Moon Jae-in speaks during his New Year press conference at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020. (Kim Hong-Ji/Pool Photo via AP)

South Korean President Moon Jae-in visited a hub of South Korea’s biotech sector in Songdo, Incheon, on Wednesday, which Cheong Wa Dae said reflects the government’s resolve to develop the industry as South Korea’s next growth engine.

He reaffirmed government’s full support for relevant firms and institutes during a ceremony to unveil a vision for transforming Songdo into a global research and production cluster.

“Overcoming COVID-19, Songdo has become the center of the Republic of Korea emerging as a bio-industry powerhouse. The expectations that our people have for Songdo have also further increased,” Moon said, attending the event held at Yonsei University’s international campus in the town, west of Seoul. He used the nation’s official name.

In the midst of the pandemic, the biotech industry is turning the crisis into an opportunity, while protecting the life and health of humankind, the president said.

“The Republic of Korea will become a bio-industry power, beyond a production base of biopharmaceuticals,” he added.

Some 40 bio and health care companies plan to pour more than 10 trillion won (US $9 billion) into new investments by 2023 and create 9,000 jobs, he noted.

Moon said the government will offer “active support” so that the effects of such corporate investment can spread to the overall industry in the interest of the whole country.

He emphasized that South Korea has a clear reason to concentrate efforts on developing the industry.

“It’s a future industry we can do well in,” he said and announced that the government will train more than 47,000 personnel to work in the field by 2025 in partnership with the private sector.

His administration will expand the bio-related R&D budget from 1.3 trillion won this year to 1.7 trillion won in 2021.

“In particular, (the government) will actively help develop ‘blockbuster’ new drugs that generate sales of more than 1 trillion won a year,” Moon said.

Songdo is home to around 60 relevant companies and institutions, including Celltrion and Samsung Biologics.

Since taking office, Moon has constantly stressed the need for innovative growth based on the deregulation of the biotech industry, Cheong Wa Dae said.

In May 2019, he declared the Biohealth National Vision in line with a campaign to nurture the field as a key industry along with future car and non-memory chip businesses.

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