A Call for Creation of Industry-University-Research-Government New Drug Development Cluster


It has been noted that in order for new drugs to be developed in full swing in Korea, there is a need to create a new drug development cluster consisting of the industry, academia, research institutes, and government, along with intensive support from the government.

This statement was made by Chong-Yoon Lim (President of Hanmi Pharmaceutical), Chairman of the Korea Biotechnology Industry Organization, at the 7th MTN Pharmaceutical Bio Forum held at the Federation of Korean Industries Hall in Yeouido, Seoul on April 28.

At the forum, Chairman Lim suggested a policy direction for the new government administration to foster the bio industry under the title, “The Path for K-Bio in the Endemic Era.”

Referring to the current state of Korea’s bio industry, Chairman Lim pointed out that the decentralization of government support, the lack of experience in conducting global clinical trials, and the lack of intricate cooperation among the industry, academia, research institutes, and government as major hurdles to further advancement.

The need for additional government support becomes clear when comparing the amount of support provided by the Korean and US governments to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.

According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Ministry of SMEs and Startups, the budget for supporting COVID-19 vaccine development efforts from 2020 to 2021 was KRW 117.7 billion in Korea and KRW 21 trillion in the US, which is about an 18-fold difference.

Chairman Lim said, “Korea is investing about one-fortieth of human resources and one-hundredth of material resources compared to developed countries. [...] With this level of financial resources, it will be difficult to train medical scientists with potential, and this will lead to a depletion of intellectual and human resources in medical science, causing a crisis for the domestic bio industry.”

He emphasized that a government-led strategic support initiative is necessary for vaccine localization and globalization of the K-bio industry.

“There is an urgent need for policies that focus on the public interest unrelated to politics, such as orienting universities toward the specialties of their respective regions and creating new drug development clusters as a center of scientificization of the medical industry. [...] We need a top-down medical reform from the President, a decision-maker above the Prime Minister,” said Chairman Lim.

Chairman Lim is actually building infrastructure for all aspects of the bio industry from education and research to clinical trials and production through the establishment of KHUB Science Park.

After purchasing the site for construction in the first of this year, KHUB Science Park will be established at Pohang Penta City as a non-profit public interest research foundation.

KHUB Science Park will provide human resources training and research and production facilities necessary to secure public goods such as raw materials for vaccines and diagnostic devices. It will establish a global partnership with the UK, a leading country in vaccine development, and promote industry-university cooperation with universities and bio companies based in the UK.

Chairman Lim said, “There is still an urgent need for a re-examination [of the project] due to low tax benefits. [...] A special law should be enacted for the establishment of KHUB.”

He added, “Considering the added value created by the medical industry as well as the jobs it creates from the quantitative and qualitative perspectives, I am confident that this will serve as a catalyst for the Korean economy, which has been suffering from low growth.”

Source: Money Today