Korea should focus on Algae Biofuel

Korea should invest massively in bio industries to grab a slice of the rapidly growing market, a leading economic think tank suggested Wednesday.

“There have been noticeable achievements in research since 2000 thanks to increasing government investment, but bio technology hasn’t turned into a major Korean industry yet,” Kim Hyun-han, a research associate at Samsung Economic Research Institute said in a report.

The global market for bio industries totaled $200 billion in 2008, and is expected to grow by an average 8 percent each year, reaching $340 billion in 2015.

Kim said Korea needs to adopt the so-called “leap-frog” strategy to survive the global competition in the bio industry. He pointed out that there is a huge gap between Korea and developed countries. This means Korea will lag behind the advanced players forever if it continues adopting “catch-up” strategies.

By employing a leap-frog strategy, one can get to grips with the future market faster than competitors by continuously trying to develop next-decade technologies, he said.

“The bio era is unavoidable, and it is impossible to become a developed country without biotechnology,” Kim noted, adding the government should support R&D in technologies that are in initial stages of development.

Korea is 13th in the world in bio technology competitiveness, measured by patent technologies.

The country’s bio industry production was valued at 3.7 trillion won in 2007, growing over 20 times from 1994, but it is still small compared with other key industries.

Kim suggested a few specific areas in the bio industry where Korea can become a market leader.

One of the most promising sectors is biosimilars, or pharmaceutical products that have copied drugs that had expired patents. Kim said experiences in biosimilars development could lead to development of new bio medicines as well.

He also suggested algae biofuel, or biodiesel and bio ethanol produced from algae such as plankton. This is environmentally friendlier than fuels using corn. Also, it suits Korea which has small land but vast sea flora, according to Kim.

Kim said point-of-care diagnosis devices are another field where Korea can be competitive. On top of the growing demand for such products, Korea can apply its semiconductor manufacturing technology and IT to the field.

“Biotechnology is one of the most effective measures to overcome the problems that mankind faces, such as disease, energy problems and pollution,” Kim said.

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One Response

  1. The rate of growth foreseen in Samsung economic research foundation of 8 % pa for the next 7 years is abysmally low.

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