April 5, 2023
SEOUL – The Ministry of Health and Welfare unveiled a five-year plan aimed at becoming the world’s fifth-largest exporter of medical devices on Tuesday.
According to the “Five-Year Plan for Fostering and Supporting the Medical Device Industry,” the government will increase exports of medical devices to $16 billion by 2027, which is twice the current level.
Under the new plan, the government will invest 10 trillion won ($7.6 billion) for state-funded research and development projects through 2027.
The government plans to invest in new medical devices technologies such as digital health, medical robots and implantable devices with the planned R&D project budget. The budget will also cover development of high-value-added products for convergence with new technologies such as artificial intelligence and data.
The government also plans to simplify procedures for clinical trial approval so that new technologies can enter markets more quickly. Currently, it takes over a year for regulatory bodies here to evaluate and approve an application for the designation of an innovative medical device for use in hospitals and other medical areas. With the proposed plan, it is expected that approval procedures for innovative medical devices will be shortened if the government eases regulations.
The government will also promote using Korean medical devices at the medical site. According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, only 11.3 percent of the approximately 54,000 devices in use at general hospitals are locally made. The government plans to increase the proportion of Korean medical devices in medical institutions by providing discount vouchers to hospitals when purchasing locally produced ones.
The plan is intended to cope with growing medical device markets around the world.
The market size is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 7.9 percent, from $454.2 billion in 2021 to $663.7 billion in 2026. The size of the domestic medical device market was valued at $7.99 billion, placing the country 10th in the world in 2021. The market has grown at 10 percent on average for last five years, according to ministry data.