1,000 Innovative Tech Companies within 10 years, for Development and Growth of the Bio-health Industy
- Date : 20-06-30
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China, the World’s Factory is on a sharp downhill slide. Increase of minimum wage, capital movement restrictions, technological and IP policies that fall dismally behind international standards, increased trade conflicts with the U.S., among other factors are dismantling China’s status and charm as world’s factory. Although this may be a crisis for China, it could be an opportune moment for Korea’s industries to bounce back.
South Korea’s traditionally strong industries could enhance their competitiveness, while new industries could be created to serve as growth engines.
Creating new industries and achieving growth is important as it is directly linked to employment. Aging societies, diseases, and other challenges that modern society face indicate that bio health could be a promising industry. Developed countries are already jockeying for position in the market, in expectation of its immense growth potential. However, Korea’s bio health industry growth lags behind that of such developed countries.
Translational research - research that translates various original technologies into biomedical technologies that can be used in the clinical setting (the market) - is considered as one of the most critical step in development and growth of the bio-health industry. Translational research must be conducted for the commercialization of outstanding laboratory experimental results.
In 2013, the Biomedical Research Institute at KIST began pilot projects for translational research with Samsung Medical Center, Asan Medical Center, Korea University Medicine, and Kyung Hee University Hospital, among others. KIST committed to investing approximately 1 billion KRW annually, with partnering hospitals committing to the same amount. In 2019, after roughly five years of dedicated research efforts, this project has produced four startups, four technology transfers, and one clinical trial that has been recognized by the National Assembly for its contributions.
Although some of the government agencies are currently pursuing translational research support projects, it is far more effective for institutions and clusters that are rich in original technologies and capable of clinical linkage to promote translational research independently. This is because communication between researchers and clinical physicians is crucial during the initial stage of the research for successful translation of the technology. They need to be in constant communication throughout the entire research process and research institutes or local clusters provides open channels and environment for such exchanges.
Educating researchers participating in the translational research about licensing and approval, clinical studies, bioethics, patient care, and safety needs to be systematically implemented as well. Such process is called “reverse translational research”, which has the advantage of partnering with startup and technology commercialization support programs provided by research institutes or local clusters at the right time since the technology will have been verified throughout the maturing process.
If we take a look at one of the leading countries in biomedical research, there are 63 translational research support projects that are ongoing in the U.S including the CATALYST program at Harvard University sponsored by NIH (National Institute of Health), which has attracted significant investment in the bio health industry.
At this moment, we imagine a future full of challenging spirit to create “1,000 innovative tech companies within 10 years”. While government agencies and local governments carry out distinctive translational research support projects, the startup and technology commercialization infrastructure of research institutes that have wide range of original technology and direct partnerships with hospitals must be utilized. This will spur growth in the bio health industry so that we can reach our goal of creating at least 1,000 startups and commercialization of new biotechnologies within the next five to ten years. It goes without saying that this requires businesses, academia, research institutes, and government to come together and commit to achieving the same goal.
From KIST to VKIST, through My Eyes 2020-12-31