The Korean government is going to pursue a mid-to-long term plan to become one of the top 7 countries in the medical device sector by 2020.
The government announced a plan to foster the medical device industry in a ministerial meeting for economic issues on March 19, with the participation of relevant government agencies such as the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW), the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP), and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE).
The export target for 2020 has been set at 13.5 trillion won (US$12.5 billion), and the global market share goal has been set at 3.8 percent. The government is also aiming at hiring 130,000 people in the sector. Last year, the country’s medical device industry recorded 2.5 trillion won (US$2.31 billion) in exports, 1.2 percent in market share, and a workforce of 37,000 people.
Four suggested strategies include a strategic investment in research and development (R&D) to successfully penetrate the market; support for the entry of medical device suppliers in the domestic market by securing reliability and streamlining regulations; support for the penetration into overseas value-added markets; and the construction of an open and innovative ecosystem.
To encourage product development and local market entry, the government is planning to build a system to connect companies and hospitals throughout the R&D process, and a system to evaluate the reliability of locally-made products, where high-tech medical complexes, hospitals, and certification agencies are all linked.
To facilitate overseas expansion, Seoul is going to establish a customized strategy to protect intellectual property rights by country and export level, to provide support for the cost of clinical drug trials overseas, and to expand support for consulting about international healthcare accreditation.
An official at MOHW said, “The medical device industry is promising and high-value-added, since the size of the global market is estimated at 510 trillion won in 2018.” The official added, “The sector has the potential to grow as a future growth industry, if the government improves regulations in a reasonable manner, and pursues projects using the strong local basic technologies such as IT.”