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Korea's Bio-Healthcare Industry to Make a Huge Leap Forward

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Guest Author
May 28, 2021

While the entire global economy has been at a standstill since the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020, the OECD predicted growth for the Korean economy. Of the 36 economy leading countries, Korea is the only one to have shown a 2% growth rate. The other major economies have all been negatively impacted.

According to the reports by OECD, South Korea, as a result of its highly effective measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, has had the smallest decline in GDP in 2020 (of just over 1%). Korea is expected to see an average of 3% in annual growth in the years 2021 and 2022.

Korean Government Comes up with Bio-Health Industry Innovation Strategy

The Korean government is determined to nurture the bio-health sector as one of the future growth engines, and announced the creation of an ecosystem to oversee entire cycle of the bio-health sector, from R&D to licensing, manufacturing, and marketing in 2019. The goal of this plan is to increase the worldwide market share of Korean pharmaceutical and medical devices from 1.8 percent in 2019 to more than 6 percent by 2030, and to ramp up exports from US$14.4 billion in 2019 to US$50 billion. The government began the first stage of this project in 2020, collecting data from 20,000 citizens. The entire project is to be completed in 2029. Furthermore, the strategy contains how to export hospital systems, hospital information management solutions, medicines, medical equipment, and stem cell plants, among others, which are positively recognized in the world for their excellence.

The Growth of K-Bio

Korea's bio-health industry has been growing rapidly in recent years. Exports of medicines and medical equipment rose to US$8.9 billion in 2019 from US$8.3 billion in 2018 and US$7.2 billion in 2017. Exports came to US$10.8 billion as of the end of October last year on strong shipments of coronavirus test kits and new drug technologies, passing the US$10 billion mark for the first time in history.

The number of Korean pharma joining the US$1 billion sales club doubled to 12 from 2019, underscoring the ascent of K-bio in 2020, the year of Covid-19. The 12 pharma companies (Celltrion, Celltrion Healthcare, Yuhan, SD Biosensor, GC Pharma, Korea Kolmar, Kwangdong Pharm, CKD, Seegene, Samsung Biologics, Hanmi Pharm, and Daewoong Pharmaceuticals) are characterized by the performance of the biosimilar developers, Covid-19 test kit makers, and traditional pharmaceuticals.

It is forecasted to go upward in the local bio-healthcare industry and continue through 2021, given demand for diagnostic kits will remain stable as the risk of multiple waves of the pandemic still hangs over most countries.

Future Events

BIOPLUS-INTERPHEX Korea, organized by KoreaBIO (Korea Biotechnology Industry Organization), has been one of the biggest international bio-health industry conventions in Korea since 2015. In 2020, despite the pandemic, BIOPLUS-INTERPHEX Korea brought more than 2,000 conference attendees and made about 430 partnering meetings.

This year, this unparalleled opportunity will be held at Coex in Seoul, from August 31 to September 2, 2021 with five core programs, including conference, exhibition, company presentation, and business partnering.

It represents a single place for the biotechnology industry’s future insights, knowledge, and current trends to be shared. The conference will bring current issues and experts from all the industry’s bio sectors, such as Cell and Gene therapy, Immuno-oncology, Global Clinical trials, Global Investment opportunities, and more. With the goal of providing opportunities to find solutions through an end-to-end BIO platform, this international event encompasses the value chain of biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries from R&D to Manufacturing/Processing, Logistics, and Packaging. The registration is open now and it is available online at

Brief Information on KoreaBIO (Korea Biotechnology Industry Organization)

Korea Biotechnology Industry Organization is the representing organization of 500 bio-industry companies. The organization covers all sectors of bio-industry including: bio-healthcare (Red Bio), bio-energy (White Bio), bio-agriculture (Green Bio) and bio-service (Fusion Bio). KoreaBIO provides 1:1 company search and matching service to the organization members. If you are a foreign company seeking to partner up with a Korean healthcare company, you can simply visit KoreaBIO’s website ( and search for its member companies or contact the international affairs team at KoreaBIO has fluent English-speaking staff members who will assist you to answer your further needs. The organization also provides an English version of the organization brochure and operates a YouTube channel that runs an English newscast on Korean Bio-industry, mainly top news of Korean Biotech companies. Please visit for more facts.

The current president of KoreaBIO is the CEO of Samsung Bioepis – Hanseung Christopher Ko.

The current Chairman of KoreaBIO is the CEO of Hanmi Science – Chong-yoon Lim.


This piece was submitted as part of the Global Marketplace at BIO Digital 2021. The NEW Global Marketplace at BIO Digital is designed to be the destination to showcase any region’s biotech strength and elevate its leading companies via high-energy, fast-paced presentations, coupled with live face-to face networking. Learn more here.