The South Korean government has announced an ambitious plan to position the nation as one of the major players in the global bio-health market. As part of the initiative, government health officials plan to create a massive database of more than one million patients with rare or incurable diseases, as well as their families, by the end of the next decade.

The database will be developed on a big data platform that can help assess and analyze information such as health conditions, medication history, and dielectric data. This information will be housed in the National Bio Bank of Korea and will be used to identify new treatments for some of the most difficult diagnoses, with the output new medical technologies and customized drugs targeted to those diseases.

“Our interest has been changing from ‘a long life’ into ‘a long, healthy life’ with the rise of the average longevity globally,” said President Moon Jae-in in announcing the program at a ceremony to proclaim the nation’s bio-health vision.

“Now is the best opportunity for us to lead the global bio-health market,” President Moon said. “Bio-health will continue to grow and develop.”

(Yonhap News)

In concert with President Moon’s announcement, the government also released details of the nation’s five-year plan for the bio-health industry. It outlines programs to support Korea’s bio-health industry through dedicated funds, investment in infrastructure, and a regulatory approach to help grow the industry.

Under the plan, it aims to expand the industry’s global market share from 1.8 percent as of last year to 6 percent by 2030 and to increase exports from a volume of $14.4 billion to $50 billion during the period.

To achieve the goal, the government plans to focus on collecting and using data, viewing this as vital for medical innovation and the development of new drugs and medical technologies.

Bio-health is one of three new sectors targeted for growth, in addition to future mobility and non-memory chips. The program goal intends to capture up to six percent of the global market by 2030, creating an additional 300,000 new jobs and reaching more than $50 billion in exports. The global biomedicine and medical device market is expected to reach $2 trillion by the end of this decade.

And while bio-health poses a number of significant challenges for an emerging, manufacturing nation, President Moon stated that the country was well-situated in this sector because it has both the talent and the technologies required to achieve its goals.