Songdo to take lead in forming global bio ecosystem: IFEZ Authority Commissioner

2023.04.04 11:07:01 | 2023.04.04 11:11:58

Kim Jin-yong, the commissioner of the Incheon Free Economic Zone (IFEZ) Authority [Photo by MK DB]이미지 확대

Kim Jin-yong, the commissioner of the Incheon Free Economic Zone (IFEZ) Authority [Photo by MK DB]



Songdo in Incheon, Korea, which boasts the world’s single largest annual production capacity of biomedicines, will play the role of boosting global cooperation in all stages in the bio industry from drug candidate exploration to clinical tests, said Kim Jin-yong, the commissioner of the Incheon Free Economic Zone (IFEZ) Authority.

“Songdo will lead global partnerships in all stages including the exploration of drug candidates, carrying out of clinical trials, and obtaining approval, on top of production,” Kim said, in a recent interview with Maeil Business Newspaper. “We will produce 2,000 bio workers per year.”

The IFEZ Authority is gaining attention after major bio companies including Samsung Biologics Co., Celltrion Inc., SK bioscience Co., and Lotte Biologics Co. are clustering around Songdo. The authority plays a pivotal role in promoting cooperation among the academia, industry, and regulatory agencies.

“Market players in the bio industry need to cooperate as the industry involves long-term work and huge costs,“ Kim said.

About 100 institutions are located inside the bio complex in Songdo, according to the IFEZ Authority. They have been responsible for 46.3 percent of Korea’s medicine and medical supplies exports over the past five years.

“It is essential that biomedicines, from raw materials to finished products, are transported in a short period of time,” Kim said. “Songdo offers easy access as it is near the airport and port.”

Kim also noted that Songdo is home to campuses of international colleges, which allowed it to attract many outstanding talents in the industry.

Songdo is engaged in efforts to diversify its industry portfolio based on its dominance position. It attracted SK bioscience, a vaccine manufacturer, to build its new head office and research & process development (R&PD) center in the district.

“Songdo has a relatively small portion of vaccine makers,” Kim said. “The construction project will likely enable the district to turn a cluster of contract development and manufacturing organizations into a new industrial ecosystem.”

Kim also noted that Songdo’s capacity in R&D is still limited, although R&D is the main source of competent biotechnology.

The commissioner, in particular, focused on the so-called open lab inside SK bioscience’s R&PD Center, a joint research place in which bio-pharmaceutical companies interact with each other and train workforce.

The IFEZ Authority aims to render the biopharmaceutical industry more competitive by investing 20 billion won ($15.27 million) in constructing a training center for staff in bio-processing, scheduled to be open in the second half of 2024. The Authority is also seeking to improve efficiency in clinical trials.

“Healthcare institutions with a high level of R&D capacity should play a leading role in clinical trials,” Kim said. “Hospitals with more than 800 beds like Songdo Severance Hospital could take the lead in such efforts.”

By Shim Hee-jin and Han Yubin

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