South Korea to invest $300m in biotech

South Korea plans to invest $300 million this year in biotech, with the aim to become the producer of at least five global products by 2017.

The South Korean Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, and other local agencies have announced plans to invest $300 million in fostering biotechnology over the course of 2015 in order to produce five globally viable products by 2017.

The comprehensive plan was announced on Tuesday, with South Korea planning to secure 2 percent share by 2017 and 3 percent by 2020 with the new investments. As of 2012, it controlled just 1.3 percent share in global biotechnology, the ministries said.

Last year, the country invested $199 million in the sector, according to the government. Fresh investments will be placed annually, with the amount of funding and the projects chosen each year depending on promising areas, though it will increase overall.

Single projects will be able to get up to $16 million this year, and $44 million in 2017.

Biotechnology is quickly gaining popularity in South Korea, the government said, with startups working on the area accounting for 13.7 percent of listed companies on the KOSDAW based on market value. In comparison, it accounted for only 3.6 percent in 2004.

Venture capitalists invested a total of $225 million in biotech last year, more than IT manufacturing's $150.8 million and IT services' $131 million.

The government expects the global biotechnology market to see rapid growth, and expects it to dwarf the semiconductor, chemical, and automotive industries by 2024 -- the three major sectors that South Korea is currently most profitable in.

The government will also help companies gain certification abroad, and provide the medical standards of 37 countries.

Source: ZDNet Korea (zdnet.co.kr)

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