South Korea Unveils Plan For Global Dominance In The Medical Device Industry

South Korea, The Ministry of Health and Welfare in South Korea announced the launch of “The 1st Comprehensive Plan for Development and Support for the Medical Devices Industry (2023~2027)” with the vision of turning Korea into a global medical devices export powerhouse. This comprehensive plan is the first mid- to long-term strategy established according to the May 2020 Act.

The medical devices industry has the potential to experience high and sustainable growth due to global trends such as economic growth, an aging population, and an increased interest in health. The global medical devices market is predicted to grow from USD 454.2 billion in 2021 to USD 663.7 billion in 2026, exhibiting an average annual growth of 7.9%. Korea’s medical devices industry ranked the 10th largest in the world, is estimated to have a market size of USD 7.99 billion (KRW 9.1 trillion) in 2021, with an average annual growth rate of 10.2% from 2017 to 2021.

The export-driven medical devices industry, with its exports accounting for approximately 77% of total production in 2021, has a high job creation effect, recording an average annual employment growth rate of 5.8% from 2017 to 2021, which is higher than that of the pharmaceuticals and cosmetics industries. The industry also recorded the first trade surplus in medical devices in 2020, extending the surplus in 2021 as well.

The comprehensive plan is based on discussions with experts from industry, academia, and the research and medical industry regarding the status of the domestic medical devices industry, the issues it faces, and measures to support the industry overall. The plan consists of four major strategies in R&D, support for the clinical demonstration, market expansion, and regulatory changes.

The Korean government aims to shift the industry’s paradigm from a technology catch-up industrial structure to a global leading industry. Minister of Health and Welfare Cho Kyoo Hong emphasized the importance of the medical devices industry’s long-term support strategies, ensuring the industry’s sustainable growth and maintaining its export momentum. He added that the government would work closely with the industry to secure the necessary budget and strengthen cooperation.

Recent developments, including growing interest in digital healthcare, the emergence of new infectious diseases and an aging society, and accelerating 4th industrial revolution technology, are all conducive to the growth of the medical devices industry. This comprehensive plan will provide a strategic direction for Korea’s medical devices industry to become globally competitive and lead the broader bio-health industry.