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Osong, the Next Bio Healthcare Hub

O song is a town located in the city of Cheongju in North Chungcheong Province. The Korean Government has been promoting various projects to develop this town as a specialized area for the bio-medical industry. The Osong Bio Science Technopolis was built in 2008 and the Osong Biopolis is now under construction to be completed by end of this year.

Osong has four optimal qualities to become Korea’s bio hub. It is in a favorable location both in the geographic and geo-economic aspects, and can create a synergy effect in conjunction with the high-tech industrial belt. It can also build a pilot model for the bio cluster led by the public sector and can sustain the ecosystem of the bio industry.

First, it is a nodal region, with Cheongju International Airport and the Osong KTX Station, and shares the function of Sejong’s regional town planning. The town is also located within the advanced industrial belt, which adds further value to the area.

Second, North Chungcheong Province is at the center of the bio-medical industry, comprised of the International Science Business Belt (ISBB), Free Economic Zone (FEZ), Osong High-Tech Medical Complex and Daedeok Research Complex.

Third, Osong is capable of creating a pilot model of the bio cluster led by public organizations, namely six national institutes including the Korea Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (KCDC), Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS), National Institute of Food and Drug Safety Evaluation (NIFDS), National Institute of Health (NIH), Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI) and the Korea Human Resource Development Institute for Health & Welfare (KOHI), all located within the Osong Bio Science Technopolis.

Lastly, the bio industry ecosystem has been sustained thanks to the establishment of the country’s only life-sciences park in Osong. This underpins the fact that Osong is indeed considered to be the epicenter of Korea’s bio industry.

The Osong Bio Science Technopolis aims to achieve organic cooperation among the industry, academia, research institutes and the government. In 2010, six state-run institutes relocated their offices to the Osong Health Technology Administration Complex. The Administration Complex is the first government-led bio cluster with a one-stop service system in the healthcare and medical fields, providing services like licensing clinical trials, conducting research on diseases, training professionals and fostering the industry.

The Osong Biopolis is the only region specializing in biotechnology and the ideal place for attracting biotech businesses. Its favorable conditions allow it to promote biotechnology-based convergence industries and attract global businesses specializing in new drugs and medical devices. The Free Economic Zone Authority provides incentives to those investing in the complex, specifically, tax exemption for foreign-invested companies.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) has decided to spend KRW 188 billion to foster bio-healthcare industry starting next year and create 42,000 more jobs by 2022. The blue print includes the plan to build an advanced clinical trials center by 2021 in the High-tech Medical Complex. Moreover, Osong will establish drug product manufacturing facilities at the global level. In regards to the training of professionals, the government will focus on nurturing on-site manpower and medical scientists. The training center in the High-tech Medical Complex will provide training sessions, and job fairs for the pharmaceutical and bio industry will be held on a regular basis so that the companies in the industry can secure talented employees locally.

Regulations will be eased to help startups and small ventures to operate in the Complex to support research and development. For example, the minimum required number for beds needed for the installation of special medical equipment such as CT and MRI machines will be lowered from 200 to 60.

Against this backdrop, Osong is playing a key role in Korea’s bio industry and is now taking another leap forward to enter the global market. Last month, a task force team was established to develop Osong’s residential environment and cultural/sports infrastructure, as well as to improve accessibility to the town and promote future industries. As such, Osong is highly expected to become Northeast Asia’s bio hub in the future.

Source: Yonhap News Agency, Newsis, Ministry of Health and Welfare