Updated on 15 May 2013
South Korea’s biotechnology is strengthening its R&D capacity in genomics, proteomics, and bioinformatics
The year 2012 has been particularly eventful for South Korea. Not only has the nation elected its first woman president, Ms Park Geun-hye, but has also made progress on the path to become the fourth largest economy in the Asia Pacific region by 2016.
South Korea, which is the 12th largest economy in the world and has a population of 50 million, witnessed a GDP growth of 4.5 percent in 2011-12. The number of individuals over the age of 65 is expected to increase to 20 percent in 2025. This rate was 11.3 percent in 2010. This substantial shift in the demographics has led the South Korean government to increase its healthcare expenditure in double digits, touching almost 15 percent to reach $1.5 billion in 2012-13, which is almost 30 percent of the total expenditure of the country.
Korea is a significant market for over-the-counter (OTC) as well as prescription drugs, making it highly attractive to multinational drug makers as well as local and foreign healthcare companies. In 2011, a pharma market forecast presented by Business Monitor International indicated that Korea's pharmaceutical market is anticipated to reach $19.3 billion in 2014 and grow with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.1 percent until 2019 to reach $26.5 billion. In 2012, Korea contributed 15 percent of the Asia Pacific revenue of about $150 billion, according to BioSpectrum Asia Pacific Bioscience Industry Survey.
A strong support by the Korean government, highly educated personnel, growing infrastructure and burgeoning innovation from the academic and private sectors are some of the major factors that are driving growth in the bioscience sector in Korea. The geographical location of the country also offers it a prominent advantage, as it can act as a base for local foreign companies to serve East Asian markets such as China, Japan and the ASEAN countries, which together account for 31 percent of global bioscience demand.